Thursday, 17 March 2011

An Inside Job

I was still too full of snot to go fencing last night, so sloped off to our wonderful independent cinema (The Light House) instead. I was quite torn between Never Let Me Go (great book, but Keira Knightley) and Inside Job, which was only on for one night. Because I am a nerd, I chose Inside Job: it's a documentary asking the hard questions about how banking managed to crash the global economy.

Wow. It turns out that you only need a small group of multimillionaires and billionaires to do it. They invent insane financial instruments which turn bad investments (like thousands of extra-expensive mortgages given to poor people) into AAA-rated investments, then they persuade the politicians to abandon all regulation. Then they sell this rubbish to pension funds while betting with their own money that these things will go bust. While all this is going on, they take jobs in all the government regulatory departments, and sack everybody - not because they weren't needed, but because unregulated free markets had assumed the status of a religion. And everybody knows that only priests get fat from religion.

All the people now being asked by the American and UK governments to fix the system are the people who caused the crash in the first place: Paulson, Summers and many more.

One of the fascinating aspects of the film was the incredible self-assurance of the interviewees. I've never seen so many 'X declined to be interviewed' titles, but quite a few of the guilty parties did grant audiences - and despite crashing the entire global economy, having to be rescued by the government and not having to suffer in any way, they were still convinced that they and the system were completely right on every detail. Remorse? Forget it. Reassessment of their ideology? No chance.

And the universities? They're providing the bullshit justification for all this, while secretly being paid to produce research 'proving' what a brilliant idea it is. One very senior academic sat on the boards of several of the stupidest banks, designed the anti-regulation environment for George Bush, and took money to write papers like 'Financial Stability in Iceland', which he now lists on his CV as 'Financial Instability in Iceland'. Meanwhile, they don't declare any of the payments for churning this stuff out: imagine a pharmaceuticals research paper not mentioning getting funding from the makers.

I literally cannot explain how moronic these people were, nor how deliberately selfish. At times during the film I laughed, at others I wanted to cry or punch things. Do see it. (More here).


Ewarwoowar said...

Stopped reading once you had the nerve to criticise Keira.

Benjamin Judge said...

That's what I was thinking. What on earth has she done to get you wound up?

The Plashing Vole said...

I genuinely think she can act - she was great inthe Austen adaptation a few years ago, but I just sit there thinking 'eat some pork scratchings' rather than listening to what she's saying. I'm not proud of this.

There are people I deliberately won't watch because they're talentless and freakish: Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Adrian Edmondson, sadly Nicholas Cage now - she's not in that category.

Benjamin Judge said...

Tom Hanks? Tom Hanks? Are you insane?

Catch Me If You Can? The Road to Perdition? Big? Toy Story? The 'Burbs? Dragnet? Castaway?

Tom Cruise?

Magnolia? Rain Man? Tropic Thunder?

Ewarwoowar said...

I can understand not liking Tom Cruise. I'm not a huge fan of him, although he was great in Valkyrie.

I can also understand wincing a bit when seeing Keira. She does need a good meal, as beautiful as she is.

Nicholas Cage gets a lifetime pass from me, solely for The Rock, the finest action movie ever made.

Tom Hanks is a genius. I have nothing to add to what Ben has said except tacking on Forrest Gump to his list.

The Plashing Vole said...

Actually, the only Tom Hanks one I like is Mighty Joe and the Volcano (is that right?).

Magnolia I can bear, though it just makes me think of Neal in his y-fronts shouting 'respect the cock'. So I don't watch it very often.

I also enjoyed The Rock. I watched it with my Irish granny, who spent the time shouting 'G'wan Sean, ah, he's grand'.

neal said...

Excellent doc, watched it the other day. If anyone's interested the full thing is available here:

The Plashing Vole said...

Good spot.