In 2008, a global recession hit, and Charles Ferguson's documentary attempts to get to the heart of the issues which brought it about. To begin with, he takes the example of Iceland, one of the most stable countries in the world up until the mid-00s when it was decided to privatise its banks, banks which then gave out billions of dollars of loans to people who had no intention of paying them back. The result? Iceland went bankrupt, their unemployment rocketed, their savings disappeared - and a lot of very rich businessmen became even richer.
There would be plenty of people who would tell you the twenty-first century economic crisis which spread around the world was something so complicated that you would have to be an expert in advanced finance to understand what was exactly going on, never mind what had caused it in the first place. Yet here Ferguson, in an Oscar-winning documentary, posited the point that this lack of understanding in the minds of those outwith the top one percent of citizens who owned most of the money was precisely what the rich, wealthy and fabulously well-to-do were banking on, if you'll excuse the pun.
Thus Ferguson set out to make it as clear as possible what had happened, and why it was still going on, the answer to that latter question being that all the men, and occasionally women, who got us into this mess were still holding positions of enormous power, influencing governments to do whatever they suggested. How were they able to get away with this? Because they were making themselves and their cronies unimaginably huge amounts of money out of the guarantee that the rest of us saps were suffering thanks to their illegal dealings. As the documentary closes, it shows that the same conspirators were very much ensconced in the Barack Obama administration as they had been in administrations since the days of Ronald Reagan.
It was richly rewarded "advisors" such as Alan Greenspan who had made sure that any regulation of the banks was abolished, thereby allowing massive amounts of money to be made by a relatively tiny amount of people, with no one to stop them when their corruption got so out of hand that millions across the planet were losing their livelihoods while the villains were rewarded - and don't forget the taxes were lowered significantly for those fat cats as well, so they didn't even have to compensate those lives they were ruining. Ferguson went further: the fact they were ruining lives was what made them so successful as they gave out what are mildly termed "risky" loans in enormous numbers and profited from the disaster accordingly having actually betted they would fail.
The film painted a depressing picture where vastly powerful financial companies pushed out any smaller competition and ran roughshod over the majority not lucky enough to be as well off as they are. Part of the pleasure, if there was any, in Inside Job was the knowledge that they might be allowed to feel a hint of guilt at what they had done as Ferguson plainly puts the facts of their greed to some of these people's faces and we get to watch them squirm before telling him they will not answer that, or even that the interview is over. It becomes a running joke when a caption repeatedly flashes up onscreen that so-and-so refused to be interviewed, but if you're laughing, it will be hollow laughter. As these money men splash out on all the cocaine and prostitutes they can possibly handle with your money, you tend to think there's not much you can do as so many of them have so many tentacles in so many institutions it will take a Herculean effort to clean them up. Ferguson remained optimistic - after all, what's the alternative?