I finally watched Inside Job, the Oscar-winning documentary on the Wall Street - Washington corruption that caused the financial crisis. Some conservatives have complained that the filmmaker, Charles Ferguson, is a lefty who minimizes Fannie and Freddie's role in the housing bubble, and overemphasizes "deregulation." These are fair but minor points (Ferguson also gets in a gratuitous shot at the Bush tax cuts). The overwhelming theme of the film is that Wall Street, Washington, and economic academia are all thoroughly corrupt and are enriching themselves at our expense. And the case is made airtight. Ferguson rightly attacks all of the key players: Paulson, Greenspan, Bernanke, Rubin, Mozilo, Fuld, etc. And he pulls no punches in excoriating Obama's failure to deliver on reform promises: "it's a Wall Street government."
The film's narrated conclusion: For decades, the American financial system was stable and safe. But then something changed. The financial industry turned its back on society, corrupted our political system, and plunged the world economy into crisis. At enormous cost, we've avoided disaster and are recovering, but the men and institutions that caused the crisis are still in power, and that needs to change. They will tell us that we need them, and that what they do is too complicated for us to understand. They will tell us it won't happen again. They will spend billions fighting reform. It won't be easy. But some things are worth fighting for.
I cannot recommend Inside Job highly enough, especially as a great introduction for those who don't follow this stuff as closely as some of us do. Order it here, and if you have friends and family who don't understand how we were robbed, send them copies too.
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There are very few financial problems that can't be solved by a suitable application of asset bubbles.