Margin Call

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J.C. Chandler’s 2011 film Margin Call examines the actions of an investment firm’s key decision makers during the earliest stages of the most recent financial crisis. Chandler does a good job with the characters of this movie he isn’t necessarily looking for a villain in a mess like this nor any lengthy explanations; he’s going deeper than that. He goes more for societal costs of high finance, the power of self-rationalization, and the easy embrace of personal corruption. The movie is filled with business lessons that go beyond the investment world. One theme of the film centers on business ethics and whether personal interest should trump customer/employee investment. Clearly, the decision made by John Tuld and senior management demonstrates that everybody is out for themselves. Personal investors are at the mercy of the individuals and the firms they invest with. The ease with which Tuld makes his decisions is scary to any business ethical viewer. With unqualified statements such as, “its just money” the audience begins to understand that the financial system can be an unfair game. In contrast Peter’s boss, Sam Rogers’ ethical implications of how the company plans to resolve its problems are almost more than he can handle. Sam stumbles upon the issue triggering the crisis, it’s one thing to be shocked at the ramifications of what’s about to unfold. But it doesn’t mean one’s outrage can’t be set aside when personal survival is on the line, an attitude that he quietly maintains but isn’t afraid to tap when the need arises. Moral ethics are thrown out the window in order to salvage a firm that has taken on too much risk in order to increase profits and inflate employee earnings. Management is willing to do whatever it takes to save themselves and protect their personal assets. This includes liquidating entire departments, and ruining the integrity of their own employee’s careers in the process. This film had several big ethical messages from it. In...
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