This week, you can watch an Oscar winner: the best documentary, Inside Job.
Charles Ferguson's penetrating documentary addresses the causes and consequences of the financial crisis of 2008. Those who have perpetrated the shenanigans that the average taxpayer continues to pay for — in both the bailout and the sputtering economy — have escaped unpunished. Most have continued to prosper — many obscenely paid — while debates rage over public-employees' wages and pensions, a drop in the bucket comparably.
Narrated by Matt Damon, Inside Job recounts how former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and others, including economist Lawrence Summers, President George W. Bush and various cable-TV pundits, touted the triumphs of the economy even as some analysts warned against the frenzy. Raghuram Rajan, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, presented a paper in 2005 warning of a coming "catastrophic meltdown," but Summers derided his report. Some of those worriers show up in the film, more to shake their heads rather than say, "I told you so."
No one who was part of the collapse — either in the government or from the giant banks — would agree to be interviewed for the film. Ferguson goes over territory others have covered extensively, but he gives the sordid mess some perspective and makes it understandable. A lot of people are to blame — members of both major political parties, economists and even academics. For the most part, Ferguson lets the story play out. At times, though, he sounds incredulous at some of the explanations from apologists he questions.
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There have been no significant prosecutions, and most of us can't get our heads around the house of cards built by faceless bankers. Inside Job, at least, helps to clarify the picture.
Inside Job retails for $28.95 or $34.95 on Blu-ray.