Thursday, September 29, 2011

3 Films about the Financial Crisis

We've been sitting on top of what may be another financial landmine for several weeks now, so I think now's a good a time as any to look back at how global financial crisis of a few years ago came to be. Here are three interpretations of that fateful moment in modern human history, three different looks at a series of events that continue to affect how we think and behave in the world of business and finance to this very day.

1. Too Big to FailThe Hollywood Treatment

The plot revolves around former US Secretary of the Treasury Henry "Hank" Paulson (played by William Hurt) and how he and his team handled the crisis, from JP Morgan's acquisition of Bear Stearns to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, up to the moment he and Ben Bernanke developed and proposed the bailout program to the US congress.

2. Inside Job - An Angry Documentary

This documentary by filmmaker Charles Ferguson and narrated by Matt Damon won the Oscar for Best Documentary in 2011. Here, Paulson and his fellow Wall-Street-to-Washington compadres were painted in a less flattering light than in Too Big. While most of the more prominent figures in the middle of events (e.g., Paulson, Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, etc.) declined to participate in the film, it did not lack for important insights and comments from several people who were in the know. One particularly interesting angle that the film looked at is the degree of complicity of the academe in igniting and perpetuating the crisis. It also presents a "user friendly" explanation for how the crisis came about, similar to those we presented in this blog previously.

3. Inside the Meltdown - The Sane Take

Inside the Meltdown is an episode from PBS's FRONTLINE series; you can view the full program online here. It covers more or less the same period that Too Big does, but without the drama, and is several degrees more objective than Inside Job. Needless to say, if you must choose only one among these three, choose this.

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