This extraordinary film is a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks that Wall Street has learned the error of its ways and that Washington’s watchdogs are straining at the leash, ready to protect the public’s interests.
Film maker Charles Ferguson reveals that the current administration has elevated many of the film’s characters to positions of high authority where they have helped to stonewall most legislative efforts to truly reform Wall Street. In Ferguson’s view, we have the best government that money can buy.
In scene after scene, the camera’s unblinking lens focuses on close-up shots of squirming subjects. Using their own words, Ferguson uncovers what appear to be conflicts of interest and self-serving deals by key players in the credit derivative swaps scandal. As a study in greed, the film goes well beyond the fictional account of the financial scandal portrayed in the Oliver Stone film starring a malevolent Michael Douglas, ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.’
The ‘New York Times’ called ‘Inside Job’ “a story of crime without punishment.” In fact, only one of the key figures in the financial scandal has been held accountable. Angelo Mozilo, chairman of the board of Countrywide Financial, recently settled an SEC fraud case for $67.5 million, small change for a man who earned $470 million between 2001 and 2006.
As Ferguson sees it, the complexities of modern finance cannot be reduced to a fool-proof formula. He may well be right. If so, we will continue to have financial bubbles so long as money managers can dodge the risks they take by gambling with other people’s money in order to earn outlandish year-end bonuses.