Deregulation fortress "allowed [bankers] to plunder the peasantry with no control or oversight"

I’m thrilled to tell you there’s a splendid movie about the financial on its way, called “Inside Job”:

Charles Ferguson is here to tell the world that the crisis that wiped out trillions of dollars in wealth, threw millions of people out of their homes and out of work, and further widened the gulf between rich and poor was no accident. It was a crime. Ferguson, a former software entrepreneur and policy-wonk scholar turned filmmaker, is definitely no left-wing bomb-thrower or closet Marxist. But he plays one in the movies, you might say. His new documentary, “Inside Job” — arguably the smash hit of Cannes so far — offers a lucid and devastating history of how the crash happened, who caused it and how they got away with it.

Furthermore, Ferguson argues, if we don’t stop those people — preferably by removing them from power, arresting them and sending them to prison — they will certainly do it again. “Inside Job” is as elegant, penetrating and well researched as Ferguson’s Iraq war film, “No End in Sight,” but it’s a hell of a lot angrier…

There was nothing reasonable or decent or redeemable about the world of high finance, in Ferguson’s judgment, by the time the 21st-century bubble reached its peak around 2006. As he illustrates with a damning parade of interviews, images and public testimony, the financial industry had ridden 20-plus years of manic free-market deregulation and neoliberal fiscal policy from one crisis to the next, surfing a rising tide of greed and corruption. (There are several people in this movie, prominent among them former George W. Bush advisor Glenn Hubbard and Harvard economics chairman John Y. Campbell, who will rue the day they agreed to talk to Ferguson.)

In a captivating conversation with former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer (who looks here like a knight in shining armor, believe it or not) Ferguson suggests that the financial industry has become a criminal class insulated from society, where profit justifies everything and morality and ethics, not to mention basic human decency, are totally irrelevant. Gaining remarkable access to a wide range of financial insiders, experts and academics, he builds a persuasive case that by conquering Washington with piles of campaign money and conquering the economics discipline with free-market ideology (and more piles of money), the financial industry built a fortress of deregulation that allowed it to plunder the peasantry with no control or oversight.

The article also includes a good interview with the movie’s director.

Posted by James on Saturday, May 22, 2010