Economic advisor Lawrence Summers did a “heck of a job,” according to President Barack Obama. Obama praised the Director of the National Economic Council a few weeks ago on Jon Stewart’s “Daily Show.” The President was ridiculed for echoing the phrase President Bush made about FEMA director Michael Brown in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. However, while critics focused on Obama’s ill-chosen words, few people focused on the larger issue of how President Obama’s economic team often undercuts his anti-Wall Street rhetoric. Although the 44th president often criticizes the corporate world, his administration has strong ties to Wall Street, a fact that is examined in depth in the new documentary “Inside Job.”
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“Inside Job” explores the foundations and the consequences of the economic collapse of 2008. While many people are familiar with the pain that the recession caused, the documentary focuses on the deeper roots of the economic crisis and the relationship that Wall Street has with our nation’s elected officials.
The film begins in Iceland, where the economy was growing at a solid pace several years ago. According to the filmmakers, Iceland’s economy began to collapse after the government pushed for deregulation and privatization on a large scale. The liberal bias is on diplay as this story unfolds but eventually, the focus shifts to the United States and that is where the documentary excels.
The movie explains why the housing crisis occurred and why so many sectors of the economy were affected by that crisis. Although the causes of the recession are complex, the interviews with economic experts and government officials lay out the facts in a clear and concise manner. Audiences may be overwhelmed by all of the complex transactions that are detailed but it’s difficult not to learn anything after watching this well-researched documentary. From credit default swaps to derivatives to academics who have served as economic experts while being paid as “consultants” for private companies, a lot of issues are presented.
Despite the refusal of many to be interviewed, the documentary features interviews with a wide range of economic experts. From officials in the Bush administration to former Democratic politicians like Eliot Spitzer, financial analysts talk about what went wrong in our nation’s economy and why. However, it’s clear that the filmmakers are harsher on the conservative interviewees than they are on the liberals. The Bush administration officials face some difficult questions while George Soros and Democratic Congressman Barney Frank are often asked much easier ones.
The best points are made when the filmmakers discuss politicians who attack Wall Street but eventually cozy up to it, including our current commander-in-chief. On the campaign trail and as president, President Obama has often criticized Wall Street for its culture of greed and corruption. However, when given a chance to bring “hope and change” to this country, he hired many of the same economic officials that had worked in previous Democratic administrations. Lawrence Summers and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are two examples of “status quo” officials that Obama hired to lead his economic team. Both have strong ties to Wall Street.
“Inside Job” is definitely worth taking a look at. It’s narrated by Matt Damon and has an obvious bias against conservative thinking. Despite that, it still openly challenges the actions of recent Democratic administrations. Although Obama may pretend that he has distanced himself from Wall Street, this movie shows that he hasn’t.