25 June 2012

"Margin Call" (2011)

I was reminded of this Nonsequitur comic strip last night when I watched the excellent movie Margin Call -
The film received positive reviews from critics, garnering an 88% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The New Yorker described the film as "easily the best Wall Street movie ever made." Although the film does not depict any real Wall Street firm, or similar corporate action during the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman Sachs similarly moved early to hedge and reduce its position in mortgage-backed securities, at the urging of two employees. Other firms like Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns found themselves similarly and catastrophically over-leveraged in mortgage-backed securities. They scrambled, ultimately unsuccessfully, to manage the financial and public panic that ensued when their problems became apparent and the global financial markets plunged as a result. The character John Tuld (Irons) is loosely based upon Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers.
- which probably wasn't noticed much by the general public because it doesn't have any explosions or special effects.  It does have consistently excellent acting (Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci et al), and was nominated for an Academy Award for best original screenplay.


  1. http://www.luc.edu/law/activities/publications/lljdocs/vol43_no1/pdfs/lynch_derivatives.pdf

    law journal article published last year, part of which compares derivatives and gambling and recommends legislation that treats the two similarly.

  2. I saw this in the theatre. Not bad. I recommend it as a rental for sure.

    The best scene in the film is the board of directors meeting when the young mathematician is asked by the chairman (Jeremy Irons) to explain what happened. That gives you a real good sense about the smartest guys in the room.

  3. Actually IMHO it was Goldman Sachs depicted in the movie, who pulled out first, selling everything and thus getting their money back. If a sequel to this movie was to be produced, it would show half of the remaining guys working for the Federal Reserve.

    A well researched and very popular documentary explaining the financial crisis is called:
    Inside Job (2010)
    A classic documentary, which doesn't naively blame the Gordon Gekko types, but instead is scrutinizing why corporations act immorally and recklessly is called:
    The Corporation (2003)
    An interesting time-capsule flick filmed during the financial crisis/bailout debates is
    The Girlfriend Experience (2009)


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