October 31, 2011
So far, the crisis of 2007-2009 has inspired several films. One was the outstanding documentary Inside Job, which is unique for focusing on the culpability of academic economists. Another was Oliver Stone’s Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, a sytlized but flawed retelling of the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers. Back in May, there was the HBO movie Too Big to Fail, which purported to tell the story of the TARP bailout.
Now there is Margin Call. It does not tell the story of what happened in 2008, when big firms failed and governments used taxpayer money to bail them out. Rather, it tells the story of 2007. That was when some of the savvier players, particularly Goldman Sachs, discovered that the assumptions governing their risk models for U.S. mortgages needed to be revised.