Students reflect on Inside Job – Overall reaction and what it says about America

As discussed in What I learned watching Inside Job 25 times, I show this movie at the end of my introductory investing course. I then ask students to reflect on it. One of the questions they’re asked:

What is your overall reaction to the Inside Job movie and what it says about America? Think: democracy, society, leadership, capitalism, fairness, corruption, opportunity, freedom, the American dream, etc.

Sophomore Z.A.  Before I watched “Inside Job” I was under the impression that the implosion of the stock market was natural, and was simply “meant to happen.” However, I now understand the extent of the corruption of Wall Street, and how it creates a negative image of the United States of America. More specifically, the fact that members of the United States government, such as Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, arguably knew the situation, makes us understand how unloyal our leaders are. Moreover, if this is truly the definition of capitalism, it is clear that there is need for reformation! Clearly, ideas such as “opportunity” and the “American dream” are now less and less freedom-like, mainly because our own leaders have proven themselves to be content with lying and deceiving us, both as traders and as citizens. I am simply appalled with the lack of orderliness or even straight-forward trusthworthiness that Wall Street has shown. The most tragic aspect of the situation is that the people involved do not admit their wrong doing and also, walk away with their fortunes! Looking back, I’ve simply learned that there is another layer to the onion which resembles America, and it is not pretty.

Sophomore M.K.  Although there was some flagrant mishaps regarding executive bonuses during the 2008 Financial Crisis, individuals at the top of investment banks and other financial firms often bring great value to the company. While their bonuses were absolutely and grossly mismanaged in 2008, most of these bankers are not as “evil” as the movie portrayed them to be. There are a lot of individuals working at investment banks who are not pulling 50 million dollar bonuses and salaries. Another big issue that the movie did a fantastic job of portraying was the “revolving door” concept of universities, regulators, government jobs, and the financial industry. I did not realize how often the head of a large investment bank would be selected to head the Treasury after years in the industry itself. Even more surprising were young college students were being taught by these same individuals who were in the industry. To me, this means that these corrupt individuals were corrupting young students who were interested in finance. I think that the most important point raised in the movie is how every decade or so, there is a massive financial crisis that the heads of investment banks are unable to solve, and that they rush to the federal government for help. What this shows is that the financial industry is not only unable to be self-regulating but rather that they will try to exploit loopholes in the financial market. The unfair and corrupt practices that led to the Global Recession were not illegal, which shows that the current laws in place need to be strengthened to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

Sophomore H.R. This movie taught me that most of the wealthy people in the world cheated their way to the top. They are liars and corrupted and basically pissed on other Americans for a couple million bucks. The world is run by Wall Street, and the fate of the country is in the hands of the high level government employees and executives and big corporations. Fairness in society does not exist for the most part, and people take the easy way out and cheat their way to the top. I now see that very few actually worked hard to get where they were today.

Sophomore M.P.  I was disgusted by the facts brought out in this film, but also relieved to find out these ruthless people were being exposed.  These people completely violated everybody’s given rights by stealing their money and lying to these people.  In terms of fairness, there was no fairness.  The rich got richer, and the poor, or even middle class, was left in the dirt.  In terms of corruption, opportunity, freedom, and the American dream is that the american reality is that we will never be free; we will always be ruled by “the man” or even a corrupt group of men like in this case.

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