This muckraking movie makes me mad with its shocking analysis.
People are interviewed from Iceland, where banks once regulated and stable were deregulated and drowned in debt, nearly bringing down the government, and laying off thousands of people. In a country of 300,000 that has a huge impact. In the United States where deregulation began with the Reagan administration, the continued ripple effect on the global economy resulted in larger layoffs, more recessions, and continues to this day under Obama and what one interview subject called the “Wall Street government.”
Money is made on debt that cannot be paid. The higher the debt, the more leveraged the bank becomes, until eventually, so large (too large to fail), the executive who was supposed to be overseeing this, bails out and gets his package, which includes millions of dollars. Sometimes these executives, knowing that the company is headed south, sell their shares and take them home with their severance package, and here’s the funny thing, their heads held high.
When what you are selling is so complicated that it cannot be explained without a programmable calculator something is wrong. And it is sinking the financial markets around the world. Unbridled capitalism bankrupts us all, punishes the poor, and makes the rich make out like bandits. This movie urges us to take the system back from the criminals. And to change the way government works. This movie, though most of its heavy firepower is aimed at the GOP, does not exempt Clinton, sitting very cosily with the biggest of the marauders, or Obama, who has allowed the status quo to continue.
There are some heroes in this film, who speak before and after those caught red handed. Unlike the Federal Reserve Governor, and the Harvard University economist, and the bankers forced to testify to Congress, there are heroes like a consumer advocate who warned Greenspan, and then Bernanke about what was happening to no avail. There is an executive at the International Monetary Fund whose paper was published criticizing the mathematical model that used derivatives to make money on bad mortgages; he was subsequently shunned. George Soros says some things about the inequity of executive compensation that sound dead on.
Eliot Spitzer sits in a large vacant room with miles of windows making us wish he had never gotten in trouble with someone not unlike the madam who was interviewed earlier about what Wall STreet traders like to do after their fifteen hour days on the floor. Spitzer reminds us how he used to go after the people who were raiding consumers’ accounts to line their own pockets. He says he isn’t in a moral position to say much about their morals now. Damn.