Where were you when the financial crisis of 2008 devastated the global economy? Just about everybody has been affected by the economic meltdown in one fashion or another, and over two years later the full extent of the crisis has yet to be revealed. We have yet to hit bottom, so to speak. But at least on our way down, we can take a moment to have a nice look into how it all happened and who can be blamed.
Enter Inside Job, a top notch documentary about the 2008 financial meltdown and all the major players involved. But to understand what happened in 2008, the filmmakers take us back to 1981. President Reagan, in an effort to reassert America’s economic dominance in the world, introduced deregulation to the financial sector (championed in large part by money “guru” Alan Greenspan) and for a long while it worked great. Profits soared across the board on Wall Street, banks and investment firms made bigger risks with bigger payoffs, and the bubble slowly yet surely grew. Subsequent presidential administrations all took part in this deregulation to the point of suppression of dissenters; governmental bodies initially set up to act as watchdogs were defanged and de-balled, allowing the rich to get richer while the poor got poorer.
Inside Job is great at dissecting this whole mess and telling the story in a way that connects all the dots and makes it all flow together in a strong, easy to follow narrative. Which is pretty amazing considering how many people were complicit in the many actions needed to get the world where it is today. The crux of the documentary is to explain how this whole mess was avoidable from the get-go, and how people knew this collapse was coming and did nothing about it short of padding their own bank accounts and prepping their own golden parachutes. Much like last year’s excellent and frightening documentary Collapse, Inside Job plays more like a reality horror film – the horror is derived from the depths of depravity and lack of empathy for their fellow men displayed by the people that made these world changing decisions. Decisions to put money into bad investments and banking on them to fail, completely uncaring as to the widespread ramifications of they were doing. They didn’t care that they were literally betting on people losing their homes, they just wanted to get theirs.
There’s a lot of anger in this movie, anger at what these people have done, and also anger at what they continue to do. Many people involved in different ways with deregulation and with the cover ups are interviewed, and they stand behind their decisions even in the face of mountains of evidence showing their failures. Those interviewed are transparent in how they are beholden to the financial industry and it would be laughable when they insist they were always right if it wasn’t so damn sad and maddening. The righteous indignation of those who are confronted with their decisions and mistakes makes for some high comedy; people like this and with this mentality live among us, and walk among us everyday, and as Inside Job points out, are installed in our institutions of higher learning, passing on their dangerous ideas to younger generations. If you walk out of this movie and don’t feel any anger toward these people, then you stopped thinking a long time ago. If you really want to get your blood boiling, check this out along with Collapse and Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, and have yourself an insane movie marathon about the evil and greedy corporate and economic structures that have screwed us all over.
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