Amid financial ruin, Greece just had their bailout referendum on whether they will agree to the conditions set by the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Central Bank (they voted no). Elsewhere, stock markets in China have experienced their biggest plunge since 1992. The last great economic recession we’ve had was back in 2008 with the American housing crash, and we may be in the verge of another one. If you don’t know what any of this means, then perhaps it’s time to learn a bit about financial disasters and how they happen.
China’s situation is getting worse by the day, and Greeks are in tears. Also, many are speculating the popping of the current “tech bubble” that may lead to the next financial crisis. (Who are we kidding? There’s always at least one every decade.)
They say this alarmist attitude is unnecessary pessimism that only serves to make things worse, but that’s like saying that thinking less of earthquakes makes them less likely. Instead of just ignoring it, we could learn how they happen, why they happen, and what happens afterwards. But instead of just reading about them, there are documentaries and online videos that show different financial disasters throughout history in great detail.
Also, I find stuff like this fascinating. I don’t know much about finance (I’d otherwise be working in that field), but watching this stuff has helped me understand it a bit more despite my tiny brain.
NOTE: I’m neither a financial expert nor one of those idiots who likes to talk bad about rich people. These are merely suggestions in order to learn more about how money can be mishandled at such a grand scale and how it can affect the lives of millions.
“The European Debt Crisis Visualized” by Bloomberg
Want to learn how Greece got to its current position? There are plenty of YouTube videos on the subject at this point, but I think this one is perhaps the best as it presents the information concisely through infographics. While it’s well over a year old, it’s still pretty relevant as it gets into the root cause of the crisis, showing that it’s not just a Greek problem but also a European problem.
It also does well in explaining the difference between monetary policy and fiscal policy. Mind you, it does have an editorial tone, so you may have to take some bits with a grain of salt.
“Extra History: The South Sea Bubble” by Extra Credits
Here’s one on a historical event that most don’t know about, and it concerns some extreme economics. This whole financial bubble stuff isn’t new at all; the times and names may change, but the game stays the same.
It has elements of all the major financial disasters we’ve experienced in recent years all rolled into one caper, all presented through Extra Credits’ signature cartoon slideshow with the squeaky narration.
Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
Here is a modern day classic. The year 2001 was an eventful one; some of the best ever video games came out, the 9/11 tragedy, and the Enron scandal. Based off the book with the same name, this documentary looks into not the numbers and transactions, but the people who played major roles in what could be described as one of the biggest financial disasters in history.
It won an Oscar, so it’s bound to be good. It also didn’t pull any punches, going as far as being the film that made Glenn Hubbard look bad. If you want to learn more about the events leading to the 2008 global financial crisis, then this is the film to watch.
Bernie Madoff was the perpetrator of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. He took in $65 billion through his bogus operation behind his reputation as a former non-executive chairman of NASDAQ and all-around big-wig financier. When the 2008 financial crisis hit, he ran out of cash and turned himself in, admitting to all of his wrongdoing. He’s now in jail, 6 years into his 150 year sentence at 77 years old.
Meanwhile, there was a man and his four friends who tried to warn the powers that be about Madoff. His name is Harry Markopolos, and this is his story. Chasing Madoff was made to give off the tone of a heist movie, and it came out stylish in its execution and showed Markopolos as a man of integrity who ultimately failed in his mission.
This is just the trailer. You can learn more about the film and where to watch it [link].
DP/30: Chasing Madoff, Subject Harry Markopolos
After watching Chasing Madoff, you might want to watch this interview with Harry Markopolos as well. This is less about how world economies work and more on how one man’s greed and evil intentions can affect so many lives, so long as he can keep attracting more victims.
He talks mostly about the details left out in the documentary, what he learned from chasing Madoff, and his life as a fraud investigator.
(I wonder what he thinks of what’s happening now to Greece since he himself is of Greek descent.)
Beyond this point is fringe territory. If you’re a shareholder or just someone who hates anti-financial talk, then proceed no further. If you’re in the finance world, then you are going to hate this. You’re going to declare it as conspiracy fodder and the subject as a hack. You can throw every bit of vitriol at it, put your fingers in your ears, and sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Also, one of them has something on Jesus being a myth, so it may be offensive to religious folks as well.
You have been warned.
Many of the things pointed out in this film are stuff that most experts would label as conspiracy. Peak oil theory and the evils of the corporate world, as well as the masses’ excesses leading to environmental and economic ruin are the topics of this documentary-slash-interview with a man who was supposed to talk more about drugs and the CIA.
Michael C. Ruppert was a former LAPD officer who became disillusioned with the corruption and illegality practiced by higher powers. After having to deal with the CIA’s drug smuggling and trying to crack it open, he went on to crack other things open in an effort to wake the people up as a freelance journalist.
After years of doing what he could, he settled all of his affairs and sold off his worldly possessions, then spent some months playing music and communing with nature before committing suicide on April 13, 2014. RIP
The Zeitgeist series is a modern cult classic, and this is the second film to come out of it. The second part talks about fractional reserve banking, which is most of the free world’s banking system today. The conclusion is that the world economy itself is somewhat a Ponzi scheme due to its fundamental mechanism.