This review first appeared in Ghettoblaster Magazine Issue #28.
Charles Ferguson’s Academy Award winning documentary Inside Job convincingly argues that the 2008 financial meltdown was the result of an out of control industry. The film exposes a who’s who of crisis villains - institutions and people - using lucidly presented facts, striking visual juxtapositions, and interviews with a number of heavy hitters, Paul Volker and Christine Lagarde for example. Starting with the Reagan Administration, Ferguson explains how extensive deregulation led to the financialization of the economy, shifting it away from manufacturing industry. This trend continued, says the film, with no small help from the Clinton Administration, which enabled the financialized sector of the economy to consolidate into “a few gigantic firms, each of them so large that their failure could threaten the whole system.” This then set the table for the Bush Administration’s extreme record of deregulation and finally, the collapse. The Obama Administration fares no better in the film, shown appointing to positions of power many of the culpable players who created the crisis. Thus, Inside Job shrewdly synthesizes our undemocratic, too-big-to-fail state-capitalist system: the financial corporations take huge risks and make as much profit as possible, and the tax-payer’s role is to bail them out if they get into trouble.