INSIDE JOB (2010)
Misleading Half Truths
Release Date: October 08, 2010
Starring: Matt Damon as narrator
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 109 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures Classics
Director: Charles Ferguson
Executive Producer: Jeffrey Lurie, Christina Weiss
Producer: Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Writer: Charles Ferguson
Address Comments To:Michael Barker, Tom Bernard and Marcia Bloom
Sony Pictures Classics (Sony Pictures Entertainment)
550 Madison Avenue, 8th Floor
New York, NY 10022
Phone: (212) 833-8833; Fax: (212) 833-8844
Web Page: www.sonyclassics.com; Email: Sony_Classics@spe.sony.com
Narrated by Hollywood leftist Matt Damon, who should know better, the movie opens by taking a look at Iceland’s complete financial collapse because of the global housing and banking crisis. Right off the bat, it lays the blame on the government’s alleged “deregulation” of the banking industry. Apparently, this led to Iceland’s banks becoming involved in too many risky loans.
Then, without mentioning the government’s printing of money that exacerbated the crisis in the 12 months leading up to Sept. 2008, the movie shifts to the United States in the 1980s, talking about the U.S. government’s own partial deregulation of the banking industry, which began during Ronald Reagan. Of course, this conveniently ignores President Jimmy Carter’s regulation of the housing industry before Reagan, or the federal government’s formation and reorganizations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 1938 and 1980, before Reagan.
The movie proceeds to argue that the banking industry’s deregulation led to the formation of huge investment banks (like Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and J.P. Morgan Chase) and large firms that insured the banks’ holdings (like AIG). Meanwhile, the federal government also wasn’t doing much regulation of companies like Moody’s and Standard & Poors, who gave good AAA and AA ratings to some of the worst, most unstable loans made and sold by the investment banks.
While detailing all this very effectively, the documentary also begrudges the very high salaries that the top executives at these companies earned and details their connection to the Reagan, Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. For example, major treasury secretaries and other regulatory officials appointed by these presidents have come from Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch. Of course, recent news reports in January 2011 show that Obama is appointing J.P. Morgan executive, and Chicago politico, William Daley, as his new Chief of Staff. The movie also relates how this high executive compensation led many banking executives to cavort with prostitutes, buy gratuitous luxury items like multiple jets, and, in some cases, launder money for drug dealers, Iran’s nuclear program or the Pinochet government in Chile. (Does anyone remember that government power corrupts!)
After castigating President Obama’s own continued participation in the corrupt deregulation, the documentary turns its attention to leading economic professors at influential schools like Harvard and Columbia University. It shows that these professors have gotten tons of money from the banking and housing industries, but always fail to mention that fact when they write glowing reports regarding these industries. Several of the professors are shown squirming in their chairs as the director, Charles Ferguson, questions them about this.
Since all the corruption seems to be continuing under President Obama, the movie offers little hope to the viewer that things will change. In fact, it claims that Obama’s ties to the banking and housing industries led to a watered-down bill regulating Wall Street this past summer.
INSIDE JOB focuses on the banking and financial industry, and its connection to the housing bubble that helped create the crisis in Sept. 2008. However, it skips over the huge role that the government-created institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac played in the crisis, including all the new government laws and regulations on housing and housing loans. In doing so, it lets leading Capitol Hill Democrats like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank (who encouraged bad housing loans and publicly and vociferously defended the economic stability Fannie and Freddie), off the hook.
Also, as Don Peppers notes in “Did Deregulation Cause the Financial Crisis?”
One of the experts the movie consults to unravel the banking/financial debacle is Professor Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Rajan wrote a 2005 paper warning about the upcoming meltdown and has written a book about it, called FAULT LINES. Larry Summers, recently President Obama’s chief economics advisor, once vociferously rejected Rajan’s thesis. What INSIDE JOB doesn’t tell viewers, however, is that Rajan also believes that “the political push for easy housing credit in the United States and the lax monetary policy [by the Federal Reserve, an institution created by big government in collusion with large banks] in the years 2003-2005” were major contributors to the crisis, if not the instigating factors (see “Misdirected Outrage” by Gene Epstein, Barrons, Oct. 23, 2010, http://online.barrons.com/article/SB50001424053111904502004575562621077193024.html). By misrepresenting Rajan, the filmmakers unintentionally reveal how movies can be edited to make people conclude one thing when the exact opposite is most likely the case. This example is so egregious that they put their WHOLE case in grave doubt! Even if some of what they say is true.
Thus, INSIDE JOB fails to attack the real root cause of the problem – incestuous government interference in and regulation of business, including the banking and housing industries. Instead, it falsely lays the whole blame on deregulation and capitalist greed. In reality, government interference and regulation has virtually destroyed the American automobile and steel industries. And, in 2008, it virtually destroyed the banking and housing industries and, along with it, the global economy.
The government has a valid and important role as an impartial referee. This role is squandered when the government joins one of the teams on the field. Regrettably, this movie seems to think, just as the socialists do, that the government should play on both teams.
Please don’t buy the lie of left-wing media’s hype of movies and documentaries such as INSIDE JOB. If a movie’s apparent left-wing viewpoint sounds biased and fishy, it probably is.
INSIDE JOB also contains some foul language and references to prostitution and illegal drugs.
INSIDE JOB certainly exposes the high salaries of these incompetent players, but it presents a leftist, anti-capitalist view that’s false. It wasn’t government deregulation that was the root cause of the 2008 fiscal crisis. In reality, the instigating factors were government regulation of the housing market, government promotion of risky housing loans, lax monetary policy by the Federal Reserve (a government created and regulated institution), and left-wing politicians running Congress, such as Representative Barney Frank. Please beware of leftwing documentaries like INSIDE JOB.