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Monday, Nov. 22, 2010

Inside Job

Charles Ferguson unveils those who pulled the economy down%u2028

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Inside Job recounts the many steps—and leaps in logic—leading to the economic meltdown of 2008. The global crisis was sparked by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and AIG and fueled by the toxic ideology of Milton Friedman and his economic myrmidons. Narrated by Matt Damon and directed and written by Charles Ferguson (No End in Sight), Inside Job begins in Iceland, a scale model of the worldwide calamity. The island nation, once a modestly prosperous, economically sufficient social democracy, was gripped by free market mania in the ’00s. With banks suddenly privatized, finances deregulated and the economy opened to the plundering of transnational corporations, Iceland enjoyed a boozy party of spending and borrowing until the crash of ’08. The hangover still hasn’t lifted.

The best segments of Inside Job are Ferguson’s interviews with many of the weasels behind the Great Recession and footage of their testimony before Congress. Some of the culprits, including the insufferable presidential mentor Larry Summers, refused Ferguson’s invitation to appear on camera. None of the miscreants from Wall Street, the Treasury Department or the Federal Reserve (not that much distinction remains between those institutions) display any human decency. Most are defiantly unapologetic. Blinded by an ideology that rationalizes greed (and in some cases the power rush of cocaine), they can’t see why anyone would object to betting against the success of their own clients or paying million-dollar bonuses to executives who gamble with millions of lives and receive federal bailouts when they lose their bets. The world was their Monopoly board and they played to win at the expense of everyone else.

The blame for what happened extends beyond perfidious Ivy League economics professors (many of them the paid lickspittles of Wall Street) and the corrupt investment houses into politicians in both parties. The current problems began with Reagan’s worship of the free market and accelerated under the mendacious guidance of Clinton and Bush II. Alas, Obama is surrounded by many of the same insiders that engineered the economic meltdown in the first place. The sad realization by the end of Inside Job is that little has changed since 2008.

Inside Job
is playing at the Downer Theatre.

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