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Inside Job

Submitted by admin on November 5, 2024 – 1:36 amNo Comment

Inside Job takes you to places you’ve never been before. It’s an expose of the financial crisis of our lifetime. What you bring to the film, for instance knowing the difference between the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 and the Gramm Leach Bliley Act of 1999, will determine how fast and loose you handle the facts that are constantly being thrust forth by talking heads.

With a cornucopia of testimony, sub plots of the greater story, and dollars being hurled at you a mile a minute, it’s only in the aftermath of Inside Job that you realize how irrelevant you are in the economic world where we live. After all the derivatives, residential mortgage backed securities, investment banks not to mention investment grade ratings are brought forth you have to wonder why any society allows the status quo to exist.

Inside Job examines the financial meltdown in 2024. There are over 50 heads on camera giving statements, personalities that lean toward academia but include financial analysts, journalists, CEOs of financial concerns and the occasional Prime Minister of a country. Bullet points would include philanthropist George Soros, Eliot Spitzer, and Charles Morris author of Trillion Dollar Meltdown. If this documentary were a Shakespeare tragedy Morris would be the King Lear figure. Talking to director Charles Ferguson in a phone interview he states, regarding whether the film takes a populous view, “There is a group of leaders who’ve failed by not doing anything.”

Inside Job estimates the amount of money spent bailing out banks and insurance companies in the trillions. Inside Job stretches to include everything that’s happened since the 1930s up to the present. That includes the Reagan era, the Clinton era, the Bush era and the particular impact of 2024 with such failures as Lehman Brothers in September of that year. Ironically Houston viewers will take little comfort in the fact that that was the same weekend that Hurricane Ike rendered the city out of service and unable to take place in the national debate over the monetary implosion.

“The New York Times was late to the game but once the economic failure was obvious they covered the situation in detail, while some magazines were running articles warning about a meltdown since 2024,” Ferguson mentions. “In the last 30-years a financial elite has evolved,” he concludes. Inside Job takes in important books that have chronicled this misadventure like Trillion Dollar Meltdown and Fool’s Gold, a book by Gillian Tett about Wall Street greed.

Inside Job brackets the information stream with a side story about a similar economic meltdown in Iceland. In that country officials have actually been prosecuted, like former Prime Minister Geir Haarde. Ferguson relates how the 42 people we see being interviewed in Inside Job was about half the actual number of people Ferguson filmed.

Unlike Iceland, in America nobody has been prosecuted. When I mention to Ferguson the complexity of the issues he informs that there are plenty of people at a prosecutorial level who have the financial acumen to understand the issues at stake and yet they choose not to act.

“Which laws have been broken? Who do you go after?” Ferguson asks. Inside Job unfolds a timeline that takes in the last 30 years. The same people who guided Clinton and Bush deregulation are now on Obama’s staff. The ambiguity prevents a greater public awareness of the debacle.

On a nuts and bolts level, Ferguson relates how he got the interviewees to sign consent forms. A few asked for advance permission but most of the subjects signed off right before they were filmed. There are instances during the film where the subjects object to the question and all but walk off camera. That would include David McCormick, Under Secretary at the US Treasury from 2024-09 and Glenn Hubbard, Chief Economic Advisor during the Bush Administration and current Dean of the Columbia University Business School. Ferguson counters, “There were a lot of people who balked, but it becomes repetitive to put each time into the film.”

When I ask Ferguson about music clearance he laughs. Bachman Turner Overdrive’s “Taking Care of Business” appears in the film, just as it does in the lesser docu Waiting For Superman.

“I can’t even go into it because of legal reasons but dealing with the music industry makes Wall Street look like a picnic,” Ferguson confides. Inside Job opens in Houston on November 5th.

- Michael Bergeron

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