The Big Short
The most important political event of this century was the 2008 financial crisis.
And yet, disturbingly, nothing has been done to prevent another crises in the future.
I think I know why.
We all agree that the meltdown and the Great Recession was caused by the bursting of the mortgage bubble. But there’s no consensus about whose fault it was.
In the Conservative narrative, big bad government forced banks to give mortgages to poor people and created the unaccountable lending giant Fannie Mae to pump more money into the housing bubble.
In the Liberal narrative, big bad banks turned the mortgage market into an absurdly complicated casino where Wall Street was the house and the rest of us were the stupid gamblers who were certain to lose.
The amazing and important movie “The Big Short” tells the liberal side of the story. The film deserved to win the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, because it manages to make a boring, complicated story seem understandable and gripping.
“The Big Short” introduces us to the handful of unrelated brokers (Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, and Brad Pitt) who realized that the mortgage securities market was destined to collapse and made a fortune betting against it.
By 2008, the film argues, there was $20 invested in shady mortgage-backed securities for every $1 of actual mortgage. An unnaturally large percentage of our economy was based on the faulty notion that everyone could pay their mortgage and that housing prices would keep rising forever.
When housing prices began to fall and working class homeowners stopped being able to pay their $2000 per month, everyone in the country paid the price for this rigged securities system….everyone except the CEOs who created the problem.
The SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) should have been there to regulate the sale of dishonest mortgage-backed securities or at the very least force the bond-rating agencies to give the bonds the junk ratings that they deserved.
But the SEC didn’t do its job to protect us. That’s because the people who run the SEC are former bankers and the people working at the SEC are trying to use their position as a stepping stone to a lucrative bank job in the future.
Where was the United States Congress? Our representatives were too busy cashing checks written to them by banking corporations. Rather than punishing the Wall Street scoundrels, the government bailed them out.
And that’s the ugly truth that neither the Democrats nor the Republicans want you to know. This isn’t Liberal vs Conservative. It isn’t capitalism vs socialism. It isn’t Washington vs. Wall Street.
It is simply Them vs Us.
It is the people who have the power and the money trying to rob us of what little power and money we have left. That’s the story of the 21st Century. Please remember that next time you’re thinking of trusting a confident-sounding broker or a safe-sounding establishment politician.