September 12th, 2010
12:44 AM ET
My first screening at this year's Toronto International Film Festival was Charles Ferguson's "Inside Job." Like his first documentary, the Oscar-nominated "No End In Sight" about the war in Iraq, his second movie investigates an important and timely issue - the global economic meltdown. The film is narrated by Matt Damon and offers insight into the world's recent financial catastrophe through a series of high profile interviews.
For a film with this subject matter I anticipated a number of government officials and Wall Street executives to be named and blamed – and they were. But, what really surprised me was that Ferguson also points the finger at a few of the nation's high ranking scholars. In fact, it's not the suits from Washington or downtown Manhattan, but a couple of guys from Columbia University who end up squirming the most on the Ferguson's razor sharp hook. Glenn Hubbard, the Chief Economic Advisor during the Bush Administration and current Dean of Columbia University and Frederic Mishkin, a professor at Columbia Business School and member of the Board of Governors at the Federal Reserve from 2006 – 2008, are likely not going to be happy with the film.
It's Ferguson's assertion that scholars like these and others who wrote articles promoting deregulation of financial services and praised the safety of derivative investments were complicit in building a false sense of security in what ultimately proved to be a massive mishandling of billions of investor dollars. Not only does Ferguson detail which financial firms these scholars were linked to, he also states exactly how much they were paid for their services and thus raises an intriguing question about conflict of interest.
I would imagine these gentlemen and the many other who are named in the film are already getting their ducks in a row and planning their defense against the film's many claims. If not, they just might want to. Because, as the movie, which is being distributed by Sony Pictures Classics, gains a much wider audience, no doubt their phones will start ringing with a few angry investors wanting an explanation.
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