Movie: The Big Short
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: In 2008 you probably lost some money in your 401K, stocks, bonds; maybe you lost your house as well. Want to know why this happened? This movie is going to walk you through what happened step by step, and it ain’t a pretty story.
First of all, you have to understand that a lot of the bankers and high level investment brokers are not all that smart, even though they make obscene salaries. Then you have to be aware that a lot of people were obtaining home loans who really could not afford it, but the bankers were greedy. And most of these loans were being classified AAA, meaning they were very supposed to be reliable. Then you lump hundreds of mortgages together, and they become an asset called a mortgage backed security bond. A few sharp people (in real life, mind you) in the investment world caught on to the insane riskiness of these mortgage bonds. The first one was Michael Burry (Christian Bale), and he approached a major bank with a unique proposal, which was, that the bank he represented would pay a premium and basically bet that the mortgages the major bank held would fail. If the mortgage bond did fail, the payout to Burry’s bank would be enormous.
Other investment bankers soon catch wind of Burry’s action, including Mark Baum (Steve Carell), Jared Vennett (Ryan Gosling), and Ben Rickert (Brad Pitt). As the real life events unfold, there are a few cameos by stars such as Margot Robbie, Selena Gomez, and Anthony Bourdain, to help explain some fairly technical terms. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the techno-babble. All you need to know is that these investment bankers acted out of greed, stupidity, and total disregard for the consequences of their actions. The end result, as we all remember back in 2008, was that our national economy was circling the drain, and caused financial markets to plummet and a worldwide panic. A lot of people should have gone to jail for criminal malfeasance and idiocy in the first degree, but the crime was so large it was impossible to prosecute everyone. A really fine film with especially great performances from Christian Bale and Steve Carell. Possible Oscar nominations for their acting, and almost surely a Best Film nomination.
Dialogue Nuggets: Mark Baum – “At 8% the bonds fail and we’re already at 4%?”
Jared Vennett – “If it goes bust you can make 10-1, 20-1, and no one is paying attention!”
“Are you saying my landlord’s dog took out the mortgage?”
Slick Banker – “My bank writes ninja loans – no income, so I just leave the economic section blank.” Baum – “Why are they confessing?” Baum Associate – “They’re not confessing, they’re bragging.”
Narrator – “It was at that moment that Mark realized the world economy might collapse.”
Baum to Arrogant Investment Banker – “You are an incredibly big piece of shit!” Baum to Associate – “Short everything that guy has touched!”
Ben Rickert – “I am trying to sell $200 million of securities in a pub.”
Real Life Info: Pay attention to the information on the screen at the end of the film. The U.S. government was forced to bail these banks out, then the greedy bastards gave themselves big bonuses with the tax payer’s money. Five trillion dollars in assets were lost from pension funds, 401Ks, savings, and homes. Eight million people lost jobs, and six million people lost their homes. And by the way, in 2015 some banks have started selling the same products that led to the financial collapse….