The Big Short ~ A Capsule Movie Review by Allen Kopp
The Big Short exposes the Byzantine world of big banking and specifically the crisis that led to the worst financial crisis of the modern era in 2008, when the mortgage industry collapsed and brought the world economy down with it. We already knew that Wall Street is a morass of corruption and greed. This true story tells us just how bad it is. As one of the characters says, “Wall Street deliberately confuses people. They confuse people into believing that only they can do what they do.” To phrase it another way, nobody understands what’s going on on Wall Street and that’s the way Wall Street wants it.
There’s lots of talk, talk, talk in The Big Short. I hear all the words, all right, but I don’t know what they’re talking about a lot of time, which is all right, I guess, because I’m deliberately supposed to be confused. Most of the time talk that I don’t understand is boring and tedious, but in this case it’s not tedious because you know that something tremendous is underway, a crisis so bad that it “could well be the end of capitalism.” There were a few forward-seeing individuals who foresaw what was coming and did what they could to prepare for it, while most of the “experts” tried to assure the world that everything was fine and the banking industry never on a sounder footing. They couldn’t have been more wrong or more foolish. People don’t want to believe that something bad is going to happen, even when the handwriting is clearly on the wall. This is a statement on human nature.
The Big Short is a very fast two hours and ten minutes. While big banking is not a subject I’m interested in, this is a compelling story because we were all affected by what happened and we see that the level of corruption, greed and stupidity in the highest echelons of the nation’s banking system is astounding. And did banking suffer from the crisis and learn from its mistakes? No, it did not. The middle class bore the cost of the crisis (loss of homes and jobs), while banking executives took their obscene bonuses and laughed all the way to their estates in Nantucket. And will banking make sure that such a crisis never occurs again? No, it will not. After the dust settled, they went right back to doing what they had done that caused the crisis in the first place. Do what you can to protect yourself because it will all happen again, and it could be even worse next time.
Copyright © 2015 by Allen Kopp