Inside Job

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While most of us have a vague notion as to the origins of the global financial crisis, the detail remains a mystery to those outside the financial sector and not conversant in economic speak. Among the many attributes of this distinguished documentary, winner of the 2010 Academy Award for ‘Best Documentary Feature’, is its capacity to deconstruct the complex and often nefarious operations of the private financial sector and make them accessible to the ‘outsider’. It more than matches its claim to trace ‘the rise of a rogue industry’ and unveil ‘the corrosive relationships which have corrupted politics, regulation and academia’. What emerges in a compelling narrative, worthy of any thriller, is a jaw-droppingly corrupt sector driven by bottomless greed and impervious to its impact on wider society. Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the story is the absence of any sense of lessons learned or evidence of remorse for the tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs, savings and homes as a result of the crisis.
The story begins in Iceland, a stable democratic society described as almost attaining ‘end of history status’. This small, prosperous state of 320,000 people became a basket case almost overnight when its three main banks were privatized and began borrowing three times the country’s Gross Domestic Product with the capital mostly accumulated to incredible levels by bankers. In a scenario repeated in Ireland, Britain and the United States (US) the financial regulators failed to raise the alarm or halt the reckless borrowing and, in the case of Iceland, one-third of the regulators went to work for the banks. The story then moves to the US and the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008 that sent shudders through the financial markets and sparked a global downturn that would shed 30 million jobs. The financial bubble that led to the collapse in 2008 resulted from a breakdown in the ‘securitization food chain’ which was the traditional practice of

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