Inside Job – the film we (and George Osborne) really, really need to study

We went to see the film Inside Job this evening.  A hit at the Cannes Film Festival last year, it was also an Academy nominee for the Best Documentary in 2010.

Written and produced by Charles Ferguson, this film demonstrates beyond doubt that the 2008 meltdown was avoidable.  Millions of people, many of them amongst the poorest, could have been saved desperate desolation and heartache, had the regulation of global banks not been grossly, irresponsibly, ‘relaxed’.

There were only 19 people at the film showing this evening, at a major picture house.  There should have been hundreds.

Inside Job points the finger in many directions – to the boards of vast banking conglomerates, to the middle people who flogged debts they knew the little people would not be able to repay (but which would thereby make the sellers even richer), to the academics who ‘advised’ for big, sometimes undisclosed, sums (shades of E.P. Thompson and the continuing debate he began in 1971 with his book, Warwick University Ltd.)…  the list goes on.

One would probably have to see the film a few times to catch all the nuances and connections – it comes in five sequential and complex sections – but some responses from professionals within the sector, reported in The Observer today, give a flavour of the central message.

However we look at it, irresponsible lending to tragically vulnerable people is what Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the rest of the subprime market was about; and it paid very well to those who did the selling, right up to the top.

The lesson is immediately obvious.

Proper regulation is imperative, no caveats, no excuses, no special pleadings.

The myth of an unregulated, unchecked free market being a healthy market is just that: a pernicious, senseless, self-deluding myth.

We can carry on all we wish (and indeed, we must) about the impacts of current economic policies in the UK and elsewhere, but ultimately we’re wasting our breath – and risking very vulnerable people’s futures – unless we also grasp the nettle of stringent, unceasing checks and balances.

It’s imperative there be clear, uncontaminated space between those who regulate and check, and those at the operational end of the banking system.

Is this likely to happen under the aegis of Chancellor George Osborne? Make your own judgement.

Whatever,  go and watch the film – and take every politician you can find with you.

Whilst I fear it’s unlikely any evidence or argument will change Tory free market minds, by their own choice it’s the Liberal Democrats who will ultimately determine how (de)regulated the UK economy now becomes.

LibDem MPs may be few in number, but they have knowingly positioned themselves to hold the balance of parliamentary power.

Either the LibDems can continue to bolster Messrs Osborne and Cameron; or they can choose to change track and make common cause with Labour to grasp at a more humane way to operate our economy, before even more damage, perhaps irreversible, is done.

The free market and monetarism are dead; but they continue also to remain deadly.  Regulation and responsibility must be the essential watchwords of the future.

Go, see the film. And take courage from it to challenge, by the facts, the still virulent world of alpha males and ‘their’ banks.

Already the decent ones amongst them willingly acknowledge this: It’s everyone’s futures, not just theirs unscrutinised to play with.

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1 Response to Inside Job – the film we (and George Osborne) really, really need to study

  1. PinkPolitika says:

    Some more commentary via the Huffington Post (22 May 2012) from Charles Ferguson, who was responsible for Inside Job:
    Interesting stuff!

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