Charles Ferguson’s Inside Job is an exemplary documentary examining the causes and effects of the 2008 global financial crash. It provides a detailed and thorough explanation of the various deregulations and amalgamations that allowed a handful of megabanks to play fast and loose with astronomically large quantities of imaginary money without ever getting bogged down in technicalities, while also giving vent to the film-maker’s considerable anger at the relatively small number of individuals who enabled the sorry situation and walked away with stupefyingly large compensatory packages. I had no idea that the former CEO of Lehman Brothers was awarded a quite incredible 485 million dollars after he guided his bank to a spectacular collapse – you could fund quite a few libraries and hospitals for that, no?
Ferguson secured interviews with an impressive roster of former bank chiefs, government advisors, commentators and experts and has skillfully intercut these with sequences from old news footage and hearings in the US senate. Time and again you find yourself gasping when he forces an immaculately groomed city boss to face up to the consequences of their greedy and short-sighted policies – some dissemble ineffectually, some stumble revealingly over their words and some drop their professional demeanour and demand an end to the interview. It’s staggering, and depressing, that the very men (and it does always seem to be men) who constructed the whole pyramid of dodgy loans and impenetrable derivatives were then put in charge of sorting the mess out by the US government. This film has the dread appeal of a disaster movie, but in this case the disaster is ongoing – there’s no sign anywhere that the obvious lessons have been learned.