Film Reviews

FilmReviews

FilmReviews

Theimportance of economic wellbeing cannot be gainsaid as far as theoverall wellbeing of people in a particular country is concerned.Indeed, a country’s economic wellbeing determines the levels ofadvancement, as well as stability, as it is well acknowledged thatconflicts always revolve around resources. Needless to say, the worldhas seen its fair share of economic upheavals, a large number ofwhich have been documented in both literary works and documentaries.A large number of these documentaries have primarily been made withthe aim of examining the conditions that put the world economy onthat trend, as well as explaining how to prevent such occurrences inthe future.

In“The Road to Rock Bottom: PBS Great Depression Series”, theproducer examines the plight of the common people such assharecroppers, agricultural workers and farmers prior to and in theadvent of “The Great Depression”. The film concentrates on thedevastating effects of environmental factors including drought onthese groups. Reduced farm prices as a result of the glut of items inthe market resulted in a cycle of diminishing returns for a largenumber of farmers, thereby worsening their indebtedness, whichresulted in foreclosures, privation, homelessness and starvation.Further, the film focuses on the unwillingness and inability of thefederal government to work harder to combat the poverty anddesperation. Indeed, a large number of politicians held the beliefthat an increase in the role of federal government in the citizen’sdaily lives would promote dependency, which was contrary to theindividualism that was popular at the time, as well as thelong-standing American political conventions.

Ofcourse, questions come up regarding the origin of the GreatDepression, as well as the role that the government played inassuaging its effects on the common people. Particular interest isgiven to the New Deal. In “New Deal/New York (THE GREATDEPRESSION)” it is noted that President Roosevelt establishednumerous new federal agencies within the first one hundred days ofhis presidency in an effort to avert or cut short the effects of theGreat Depression. These federal agencies provided relief and jobs toindividuals and changed the American landscape with numerous publicworks projects. Of particular note is the fact that Roosevelt was notprivy to much economics although he was prepared to take up newideas, as well as cast off orthodoxy in social and economic spheres.For instance, he was sympathetic to plans regarding reflationparticularly of farm prices and was even prepared to abandon the goldstandard in 1933, an act that astonished conservatives. However, hedid not take up more radical policies that the Congress espoused ashe did not want to destroy capitalism but rather save it. As a resultof his worries pertaining to welfare dependency, he supported workrelief rather than dole payments, in which case individuals who hadbeen lucky to secure a place in the projects were required to satisfythe social workers that there not only jobless but also destitute.The radical thing, however, was the immense amount of public fundingthat was made available to the varied agencies that he established.This film outlines the role that the government plays in theexpansion and redefinition of the lives of the American people.

In“Running with the Bulls (SURVIVING THE BOTTOM LINE WITH HEDRICKSMITH), the film notes that corporate executives are no longerpowerful rather they are vulnerable to Wall Street money managers.This episode takes the viewers into Wall Street and outlines thehistoric powershift. Currently, the values of Wall Street are stillreigning supreme resulting in historic highs for the stock ownerswhile a large number of middle class wage earners record economicanxiety and reducing returns.

In“Mind Over Money” the producers are asking whether the marketsmay be rational in instances where humans are not. This film wascreated after the worst financial crisis after the Great Depressionand explores the reasons why mainstream economists did not manage topredict this crash and why individuals often make irrationaldecisions regarding their finances. Indeed, the film reveals howindividual emotions interfere with their decision-making, while alsoexamining the controversial arguments regarding the world of finance.It is noted that individuals rarely use information that they statethey should make use of rather they use information that they sayanybody would be wrong to use. This challenges the assumption onwhich a large number of theories are based, which is that humanbeings are rational as far as the use of money is concerned.

Thefilm “Money, Power, and Wall Street” examines the manner in whichthe financial crisis that resulted in the “Great Recession” andcost the world economy more than $11 trillion dollars. It is statedthat the Great Depression was triggered by young bankers who aimed atcoming with a solution regarding the management of risk. They came upwith the idea of insuring loans against default. This, eventually,resulted in credit derivatives where banks would increase their loanson capital rather than keeping it in reserve while spreading therisks. The use of credit derivatives were used on almost allportfolios creating a worldwide credit boom. Washington recognizedthat the financial instruments were creating more risk overall.Despite these concerns, banks won against any efforts forcongressional regulation of these derivatives, which resulted in areduction of public accountability after the Glass-Steagall Act wasrepealed. This resulted in the increase in Credit default swapsbeyond the commercial credit risk and into the consumer credit riskespecially the home mortgages.

Thedocumentary “Inside Job” also details the American perspective ofthe origins of the economic crisis today. A total of 42 witnesses areinterviewed in the movie. Of particular note is the fact that thefilm never insinuates that there exists something ingrained inAmerican psyche that generates buccaneering financial types thatfounded the immense national fortunes in the 19thcentury Gilded Age. He instead traces this financial crisis toPresident Ronald Reagan’s election since his career was founded bya group of Californian businesspeople who aimed at shaping hisdecisions to suit them. In favor of free-market system anduntrammeled capitalism, Reagan started undoing the financiallegislation called the New Deal, which had prevented key economiccrisis after the Depression Era. The deregulation process coupledwith the lowering of taxes for the wealthy took up a steadyacceleration from the early 80s forwards through to the two Bushesand the Clintons who made no effort to question or halt thesituation. Unfortunately, no one saw the savings and loan scandal asa warning signal, just as was the case for the insane risk-taking andgambling that took dangerous levels until the simultaneous collapseof AIG and the Lehman Brothers bank. The key point made in the filmis that the entire process could be foreseen. Indeed, numerousindividuals had predicted that the deficiency of regulation and theincreased dealing in highly profitable but worthless securities likeCollateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) would result enormouslydisastrous effects. In essence, the film calls on the viewers toundertake a scrutiny of the dubious and evasive individuals who aremostly in the financial business. The worst category of individuals,however, remains the academic economists who traverse the differentworlds including Washington, their academic institutions and thecorporate world as highly paid advisers, as well as apologists of theWall Street Firms. These academicians would, essentially, be engagingin academic betrayal of their intellectual responsibility, as well asdisinterestedness. On the same note, the problem may have started asa result of the reduction in government oversight, as well as theconsiderable weakening of the checks and controls on the speculativeactivity by financial institutions during the Reagan presidency andcontinuing through the Clinton’s administration. Indeed, everyadministration saw an expansion of the derivatives markets with thenumerous alarms pertaining to the dangers that came with this form ofinvestment being largely ignored. However, Ferguson does not engagein any systemic or structural explanations rather he states that thefinancial market collapse did not occur on its own rather it washuman doing. Indeed, laws are written and deals made by human hands,in which case, a blend of misplaced values and groupthink or herdmentality may have driven extremely intelligent men to make foolishdecisions. He primarily blames academicians and insinuates that theeconomics discipline and a number of prominent economists becamecorrupted through consultancy fees, memberships in exclusive clubsand seats as board of directors. Of course the main question remainswhat should have or should be done in the future to avert thepossibility of such a mess. A Mr. Damon exhorts the viewers to demandthe modification of the status quo so that trends relating tounchecked or unregulated of the form that resulted in the last crisiscan be reverted.

Allthese films, irrespective of their types or even the times when theywere made, underline the fact that the financial crisis that theworld market has had to undergo were the result of human greed andthe scheming of a large number of corporate individuals in WallStreet and the failure of economic advisers in the White House totake up their responsibilities seriously after being elected intovaried positions for the business magnates. Indeed, it is evidentthat the government failed immensely in establishing checks andregulations that would have averted the possibility for theoccurrence of a large number of these financial crises. This isparticularly seen in the fact that the recent depression has itsroots and origins traced back to more than two decades when banks wona law suit that gave them the freedom to operate without muchregulation from the United States Congress. Nevertheless, even ininstances where such crises occur, government have the impetus andthe role to uplift the lives of the citizens and alleviate theirsufferings.

References

Boston,WGBH (1993). Road to Rock Bottom (THE GREAT DEPRESSION). Webretrieved from http://stream.lib.utah.edu/index.php?c=details&ampid=7585https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GV0u8315V6M

&nbspJames,D (1993). New Deal/New York (THE GREAT DEPRESSION). Web retrievedfrom &nbsphttp://stream.lib.utah.edu/index.php?c=details&ampid=7586https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5n4u4cF4Pg

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Smith,H (2012). Running with the Bulls (SURVIVING THE BOTTOM LINE WITHHEDRICK SMITH). Web retrievedhttp://stream.lib.utah.edu/index.php?c=details&ampid=1060

Conhrane,J (2014). Mind OverMoneyhttp://digital.films.com.ezproxy.lib.utah.edu/PortalPlaylists.aspx?aid=6296&ampxtid=44440

Ferguson,C (2011). &nbsp&quotInside Job&quot. Retrieved fromhttp://www.filmsforaction.org/watch/inside_job_2010/

Jenning,T (2012). &quotMoney, Power, and Wall Street.&quot – 4 episodes.Web retrievedhttp://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/money-power-wall-street/