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Inside Job

  • November 9th, 2010

I've just come home from UnionAid's fundraiser screening of Inside Job

The film is a superb model of angry polemic. It could have been even more if it had just acknowledged more of the complexity – like silly regulation's role in expanding the sub-prime mortgage pool, and the part played by political and citizen desire to keep the cash flowing, despite US citizens knowing that they were collectively spending more than they were earning, for many years.

The film railed against increasing inequality, and managed to convey the impression that living standards had declined for all but the super-rich. In fact the building boom that has come to an end has been fuelled by an enormous increase in the expectations of all citizens of the space they need to live in. Relative decline is not absolute decline.

But key questions are correctly raised by the film. Why do the excess returns extracted by investment bankers not get competed away? There are thousands of competitors for their places, and their superior wisdom has not much to show for when so few of them could call the end of the musical chairs they were playing. Why did the government bailout designers not recover more of the obscene bonuses as a condition of rescue? Why have so few prosecutions begun?

Alan Bollard's commentary at the end was a drawcard. He managed to keep it inconsequential. I wish he had reminded the audience smugly goggling at US cupidity and foolishness in allowing the bankers to put them into such debt peril, that we are supporting a government that is borrowing $200m per week, with no practical plans to get into net credit.

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