You have no doubt heard that Inside Job won the Oscar for best documentary. I confess that I haven't seen it, but I enjoy watching a really big train wreck as much as the next guy. Filmmaker Charles Ferguson told NPR he was unprepared for what he would find out—
Not so much.
"I had grossly underestimated the level of extraordinarily unethical and even fraudulent behavior that had occurred on such a large scale," Ferguson tells All Things Considered host Melissa Block, in a conversation airing Friday.
Investment banks selling defective securities — even designing securities to be defective, so they could make a profit betting against them?
"If somebody had told me in the fall of 2008 that this had gone on on a huge scale — tens of billions of dollars — I would have said, 'No, that's just too extreme. People don't do that. And if you do do it, you would go to jail.' They did do it, and nobody's gone to jail."
The real "inside job" is still ongoing today because On Wall Street, Nobody Goes To Jail. This is one inside job that never ends.
As I was preparing to write this post, I ran into a contentious "debunking" of the film by Courtney Comstock at Business Insider.
Last night, "Inside Job" won "Best Documentary" at the Oscars.
But does it fairly depict what caused the crisis? Is everything it says true?
... The movie makes a lot of claims, like suggesting that Wall Street caused 30 million job losses worldwide, that Wall Street creates nothing of value, and that it profits more off creating investments that will lose money than investments that will make money. Are any of them true?
To find out, we fact-checked the crap out of "Inside Job," and the following are the arguments we were able to come up with for or against "Inside Job's."
I should point out that the New Yorker's John Cassidy did a thorough analysis of Wall Street banking, and concluded that Wall Street creates little or nothing of value to the rest of society. See my post Is Wall Street Doing God's Work? Having fact-checked the crap out of the film, Courtney and her co-workers came up with stuff like this:
Claim: "The average salary of a Goldman Sachs employee is $600,000"
In 2006, the average salary of a Goldman employee was $622,000.
On the other hand: This year, the average salary of a Goldman employee was $431,000 this year.
The film's claim was accurate. However, I simply do not see how an average Goldman employee can scrape by on 431,000 dollars a year (before bonuses). This is an outrage! For the junior guys, their blow & babe cocaine and prostitute expenses alone run at least half that much!
Most of the other stuff Courtney & Co. came up with is lamer still. Today we've got Charlie Rose interviewing Charles Ferguson (below). There's some serious irony in this situation because Charlie is part of the New York glitterati, and moves in some of the same circles as the fraudsters Ferguson is documenting. For example, you can see Charlie kissing Lloyd Blankfein's ass in this video. If you follow the link and watch that video, be sure to have bucket handy in case you need to throw up. What is the question of that day on Charlie's round table? Why is Goldman so successful?
Note: this clip contains the trailer