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on 11 March 2011
I knew most of this detail already and was only surprised not to see friends being interviewed. Larry Summers who makes an appearance in The Social Network as President of Harvard was the influential mentor of Ed Balls, MP. The film was beautifully constructed. It was well-structured and provided modules of insight to comprehend what was really quite simple - but journalists and apologists pretend is "complex".

When you buy something you do not expect to have to unscrew the fascia plate to find if the insides are what the outside says they are. You do when you deal with financial products. Manufacturing synthetic government bonds for pension funds by using mortgages is great until you need increasing supply to soak up that liquidity slushing around from Chinese trade surpluses. So a whole group of new companies set up to seduce the unwary into houses on easy mortgages just to generate the bonds to trade - the poor suckers lose their homes and savings and dreams when the teaser-mortgages adjust to market interest rates, but the bond trader is in the money.

A few snake oil salesmen from Moody or Fitch to chant incantations over the offering and declare it AAA or golden enough for widows and orphans to insure their future, and a friendly insurance company evading US regulators in London builds a casino business around risk-insurance CDS. Soon the great Goldman Machine finds it can buy CDS insurance against any eventuality and make money by selling junk to suckers, dumping junk in the market, and turning to AIG for insurance cover. This great aircraft insurer doesn't need to make reserves for risk because it is all UNREGULATED. And, if it goes bust there are politicians on payroll to use taxpayer funds to bail out the mess.

The US Treasury was looted by a crowd of gangsters whose scale made Al Capone look like the street hood he was. This was systematic fraud and corruption which has destroyed the myth of Western democracy. Having accused Asians of Crony Capitalism in 1990s, we now see the US and European versions ourselves in full naked glory. It is so blatant, the Oligarchs have shown how they take the savings (tax subsidised) and pension funds of the labour force and use them in high-stakes games of roulette.

This film is a must-see, and should be watched twice...in silence to appreciate the full beauty of the scam.
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on 18 March 2011
I've seen this film twice now and can't recommend it highly enough. It covers much of the same ground as Whoops!, but with much greater focus on America in general; and the way that investment banks, the government, and academia are cosily interlocked in particular.

The opening six minutes - a potted history of Iceland's deregulation and subsequent near-collapse - should be required viewing for anyone arguing that the UK (or anywhere else) is "over-regulated", as some of our political leaders have been doing at the time of writing.

The film makes no attempt to present a balanced view (though I've yet to come across any counter-argument from any other source either). The interviews are either with people heavily supportive of the film's basic premise, who are just allowed to talk; or (heavily edited) sessions with some of the key supporters of the banks who get asked some very awkward questions and have to squirm whilst the camera keeps rolling. It's fun to watch their discomfiture and hard to feel any sympathy when you find out just how rich these people are, and remain. There are also highlights of some of the Congressional hearings that followed the 2008 crisis, one of which neatly sums up the (continuing) problem: that the banks are very sorry for what they have done and promise not to do it again - just the same kind of response you'd expect from a bank *robber* if they were caught.

The explanation of the cause(s) of the crisis - whilst helped a bit by some fancy graphics - is neither as lucid nor as entertaining as Whoops!, but the central argument of the film is very powerful and in places breathtaking. (When I saw this at the cinema there were gasps from the audience at several points). This is particularly true of the end when it is made clear that, despite the branding, things haven't changed (and aren't likely to) under the Obama administration.
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on 14 February 2011
Just seen Inside Job on Emirates flight to London. It was compelling viewing both on all aspects of global meltdown of 2008 covered succinctly as also o where the world in now. It is shocking to hear bankers admit they have been guilty of over-the-topgreed and need to be regulated. More shocking is revelation of how the study of Economics at major US academic centres like Harvard/ Berkeley / Columbia are being corrupted to meet the diktats of powerful banking industry. The nexus between politics / financial industry/ and academics in de-regulating the not very ethical world of money has been laid bare
There were strong warnings sounded all through the last decade by honest professionals
that were over-ridden and un-heeded - especially one like Raghuram Rajan in his paper of 2005 asking - Is the
financial industry making the world riskier? The likes of Alan Greenspan and Larry Summars need to have their
heads examined as do University Professors who stare blank at conflicts of interest in taking money for writing
things in support of actions that have damaged institutions and the world-wide economy. No one can not help us when
we repeat the same mistakes and head into more risks and crisis
This is a must-see for all serious central bankers and finance ministry officials of countries
Christie Cherian
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 April 2014
I loved the Inside Job, so much, that I watched it twice in the matter of days (yes, it is far more watchable than it should be, taking into account that this is a serious documentary about a serious matter, it grabs like a good thriller!).

If you weren't livid about all the mischief and scheming going on on Wall Street that led to our present financial crisis, Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job" makes sure to open our eyes (not only to the greed, but to the horrendous things that are going on in the financial world - economics as a science is literally being re-written to suit the current needs of people in the money). "Inside Job" is a chain of interviews with some of the world's leading financial "experts" (I have to put the inverted marks here, sorry - watch the film and you will know why) and the beautiful cinematography.

Ferguson skillfully re-tells the widely known fact - the financial industry of the US, namely, Wall Street, are doing what they want for years, decades (if not centuries), buying off everything to aide their climb up the monetary ladder (from lawyers and economists to politicians in Washington).

We all know how the financial crisis of 2008 ended - with millions of people losing their savings, their jobs, their homes. We know that vast majority of bankers and financiers responsible for the collapse did not face any charges. The system is broken and corrupt and the film does not offer any solutions (I mean, one of the solutions, the accountability and legislation, is talked about, and yet we still have to see it implemented, and after all, the two centuries of history of Wall Street and trading, it's all about finding loopholes in the laws and going around them). And so, the film is just a documentary, a recap of the recent history. And yet there's a weird indulgence in watching the immoral financiers and economists caught on camera, struggling for well-rehearsed answers.

Matt Damon's narration is bonus.

Simply put, it is very worth watching and it is extremely watchable!
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on 26 February 2011
I thought it was excellent, and JB is largely missing the point. If you offer people cheap money they will take it. The logical conclusion from his argument is that the heroin dealer is less blameworthy because of the addicts who demand the product from him. The fact is that, like heroin addicts, millions were placed into (self inflicted) misery by the activities of the dealers - the only difference is that the activities of the bankers were legal and have subsequently received unprecedented state support (much of which has been syphoned off for bonuses). Now it could be argued that the bankers' activities were legal, whereas those of the drug dealers are not - but again that is precisely the point. Should those activities be legal, and should the banking industry be largely subject to self regulation? Perhaps we should should have self regulation for drug dealing?

If the defence of the bankers is that they were merely satisfying a demand, that really does place them in the same league as the drug dealers - they simply did not care about the misery which was bound to afflict those who were eager for their product. The only difference is that when a drug dealer loses money he has to stand the loss himself - he does not expect a state bailout!
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on 27 February 2014
The movie does a good job with the narrative of the collapse. In doing so, it takes care to define things like credit default swaps and collateralized debt obligations -- concepts that help us understand both the ingenuity with which financial organizations took on more and more debt as leverage in an unregulated environment AND how they, in what look like ethically dubious ways, insured themselves (but not their customers) against failure. The point is also made that the people who still had regulatory authority (the Fed, the SEC) stood by and did nothing at a time when at least some other economists (in the IMF, for example) were raising warning flags. The title gets at the extent to which government in the US is infiltrated with Wall Street alumni and with academic economists equally beholden to Wall Street.

The film is non-partisan -- from Reagan to Obama, there are failures to deal responsibly or to force accountability. The very people who caused the crisis walk away with millions while regular folks lose their jobs and their homes.

Does the film give the "insiders" a chance to make their case? Yes. Glenn Hubbard most notably is interviewed, but in justifying current practice and his own part in the whole deregulation story, he refuses to judge the people in charge of financial institutions at the time of the crisis, but he offers no analysis that would give intellectual or moral underpinning to the positions he holds. He comes off very badly -- belligerent, evasive, and disingenuous -- as do a couple of others who agreed to be interviewed. Refusing to be interviewed were (among others) Summers, Paulson, Geithner, and Greenspan. All of them come off badly.

The saddest part for me was the idea that economics in the academy is basically up for sale. Harvard and Columbia look very bad. Members of their economics faculties are making large sums on corporate boards or as consultants, and they are failing to declare their financial interests in their published work. It is painful to watch the Chair of Economics at Harvard fail to answer this question: "If your doctor were recommending a drug, you would want to know if he was being paid by the company producing it. Why shouldn't economists who consult, sit on boards, and give advice have an obligation to reveal THEIR financial interests?" He had no answer.
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VINE VOICEon 2 August 2012
Inside Job is a fantastic documentary that traces the origins of the 2008 financial crisis, taking us through the white collar criminal activity and the major players and culprits inside the financial services industry, as well as government, regulators and academia.

Whereas documentarian Michael Moore dropped the ball with this subject in his overly sentimental film, Capitalism: A Love Story, director Charles Ferguson nails this subject on the head. Sure, it's not going to please everybody and can't possibly interview every relevant person (no Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz, for example and it does feature economist Nouriel Roubini, who has predicted five of the last three depressions) but Inside Job seems about as comprehensive and legible a take on the subject as we are likely to get for some time.

For those who have been reading around this subject, there won't be much new information here but it's great to have so much archived in one place. For those who haven't really invested the time in investigating this subject (or simply don't have the time), Inside Job is a perfect primer. Thoroughly recommended and a great companion piece to the other documentary of corporate greed and crime, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room; though in the words of Grandpa Simpson, it's highly likely to "...angry up the blood."
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on 28 December 2011
This is, without doubt, a film YOU should see. This chronologically demystyfies why YOUR TAXES will pay the1% to walk away, scot-free from the disaster they caused. You will not get back any of the billions they took in commission but at least you will understand the scam and how it worked and who profited. Then you can decide what, if anything, you can do about it. This could be who you vote for or protests you could make. If you watch it and you find i am wrong, come back and tell me in comments. As suggested by another reviewer watch the deleted scenes.
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on 10 May 2011
"The global economic crisis of 2008 cost tens of millions of people their savings, their jobs and their homes. This is how it happened."

Opening of the movie...and screen over to the beautiful Icelandic landscapes and not so beautiful Icelandic bank disaster. The documentary smoothly continues to tackle the recent economic crisis in a structured way, including plenty of interviews with (most of the) key players, uncovering the underlying issues following 5 chapters. Some of the key players refused for obvious reasons, making this documentary still a very strong portrait.

Part 1 - How we got there
Part 2 - The bubble (2001-2007)
Part 3 - The crisis
Part 4 - Accountability
Part 5 - Where we are now

As the documentary illustrates nicely, it might all have looked complicated at the time, but in fact it was plain simple and this movie follows up on the promise to explain what drove this bubble to its expansion and more...Excellent done with great cinematography in between!

Investment banks, rating agencies, insurance companies, US presidents, foreign ministers, policy makers, lobbyists, university professors, institutional (control) organizations...all get covered in a clean and clear manner.

Worrisome is the realization that very few has been done lately to mitigate the risks to avoid such crisis in the future. Denial is still present and the documentary shows this in a superb way by interviewing some academics and lobbyists with their (documented) conflict of interest in place.

Feedback loops are important in any system, which is basic system thinking. The interesting element is that in nature as soon as you remove any feedback loop (or any feed forward loop) from a healthy cell, you end up with a cancer cell. And who wants that really? Applying this system thinking principle to the present situation and knowing that part of these feedback loops are still absent (by ignorance, greed or plain denial), future economic disasters could happen again. Related to this principle it is interesting to know that the planned regulations as promised at the time by Obama (promised before election) are still not in place (now being Q2 2011), leaving the window wide open for future meltdown sequels.

The strength of this documentary is showing the plain facts (with numbers!) and matching interviews in which hard questions are asked to key players. Sure this documentary shows perhaps one side of the dollar but it is an important side.

This is certainly NOT a Michael Moore style of documentary or interview.

Also worthwhile to see are the "deleted scenes" (under special features of the menu), with excellent contributions of Eliot Spitzer, Charles Morris, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Gillian Tett, Jerome Fons, Lee Hsien Loong, Satyajit Das, Simon Johnson and Yves Smith.

Highly recommended!
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on 21 June 2011
Narrated by Matt Damon and made by award-winning documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson, the first half hour or so of this documentary explains the background to and events of the 2008 global financial crisis though it mainly focuses on the events in the USA. Using graphics, interviews and fairly conventional situation shots of real estate, people involved and events like congressional hearings after the event, this film holds the viewers attention reasonably well while conveying a fairly large amount of information in a clear and uncluttered kind of way. It definitely requires a second viewing so I purchased a copy. Because the documentary argues the origins of the crisis lie back in the 80's and 90's with deregulation of the financial services sector there is a lot more ideas to be explored than just the events around say the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Notably, a lot of the key people named by the documentarians as responsible for the setting up, running and continuation of the policies and ideas behind deregulation are hidden from view. People like Larry Summers and Alan Greenspan apparently refused to be interviewed for the documentary, as do other prominent policymakers, bankers like Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner. The 'Inside Job' points out that sex scandals have hit people raising issues over financial services fraud like ex-New York District Attorney and Governor Elliot Spitzer who has very clear and well presented views on the financial crisis and the role of illegality in the events. The point made by the documentary-makers is that many Wall Street operatives appear to be involved in cocaine and prostitution usage and despite willing witnesses no prosecutions are made or attempts to root out corruption or any other fraud involved if any. It's worth noting that another contributor to the documentary Dominic Strauss-Kahn, the head of the International Monetary Fund at the time the documentary was made, is himself caught up in a sex scandal which has seen him lose power and credibility at a time when as the documentary points out the Obama administration has seen fit not to reform the system but rather to continue pretty much where the crisis left off. The thesis of the documentary being that such deregulation has introduced more instability into the financial system of the USA which has huge global ramifications as are shown with the collapse of Lehman brothers and so on by the documentary makers. The latter part of the documentary is given over to interviews with economists who either helped in the formulation of policy or approved of the economics being applied. This too is informative and a platform for more questions and quite revealing of how the financial services industry influences the wider public debate about the crisis. I thoroughly recommend this film to viewers of serious issues concerning people even beyond the shores of the USA.
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