Monday, June 11, 2012

Financial Crises SSDD

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

My husband and I watched two movies this past week whose subject matter addresses the state of our health insurance industry, the state of our financial health and our continual dependence on an uncaring, for-profit-only Corporate America.  The stories are similarly stocked with requisite bad guys, used generically not genderically (sic) lacking the ethics and moral compass to do anything other than protect themselves at the risk of screwing hundreds of thousands of "little people". The protagonists are quiet men with high ideals, now destroyed by the prototypes of their calling, who take on their individual Goliaths because it's the right thing to do.

Similarities between the films are striking.  The film we saw first, "Margin Call", was inspired by the Wall Street financial crisis and a fictional firm's reaction to learning they've invested a huge percentage of their portfolio into toxic mortgages.  
The fictional head of a Wall Street firm “John Tuld” (a composite character resembling Merrill Lynch’s John Thain and Lehman Brothers’ Dick Fuld and played by the wonderfully villainous Jeremy Irons) is told that the firm is drowning in toxic mortgage-backed securities. Tuld orders his traders to rid the firm’s balance sheet of the junk by dumping it on unsuspecting counterparties and customers. 10/25/11

The second movie, The Rainmaker, is about a newly graduated lawyer who hasn't yet passed the bar exam.  He is hired by a less-than-ethical ambulance-chasing firm and given a wrongful termination of health insurance suit to defend.  The company is of Prudential proportions and ruthless in their mandate to "deny all claims" at the outset, then play a departmental shell game ("Who's got my insurance claim now?) betting the hapless, in this case dying, insured will give up and go away.  

Both films are well directed, predictably frustrating with less than satisfying endings.  Because, real life isn't all that satisfying is it?

"Margin Call" released in 2011.  "The Rainmaker" released in 1997, based on John Grisham's 1995 book of the same name.  Both have excellent casts and performances resonating with
issues past, present, and future. 

And doesn't that say something about we the people and the choices we continue to make?



Jayne said...

Let us not forget telecom de-reg, DADT, and DOMA.   Hell, the blue dress was the least of it.  

CaliforniaGirl500 said...

The financial institutions & insurance companies must have celebrated BIG TIME when Clinton repealed this law. What was he thinking? Between this and NAFTA, he pulled two huge boners (pardon the pun).

Jayne said...

I think the Dodd/Frank legislation was an attempt to restore some of Glass-Steagall, but it's been rendered pretty week.  I would love to see GS completely restored, but have little hope of that happening.  That was another one Clinton blew big time.   

CaliforniaGirl500 said...

Margin Call ws out in the Fall.  It's predictably frustrating, maddening & you want to wring someone's neck when it's over.  I feel helpless when I watch these movies.  I know.  "Don't watch them."

Meanwhile, I realized I have been getting porn shots of vajayjays in my Followers column.  Gross.  Just blocked them but now have to be on the lookout.  

CaliforniaGirl500 said...

I'm impressed you read my post.  Also gratified.  I spent days doing that research to make sure I was accurate.  I love the research and analysis.  It helps formulate my thoughts.  I wish I had more time to write like that.

Jayne said...

I hadn't heard  of Margin Call, but I remember the Rainmaker.  Too bad it's still so timely.   

lisleman said...

 thanks for that link.  I don't think I visited your blog back then.  Good post.  Complex issues in a complex world filled with simple minded people many of whom seem to have ADD.  Alright, now I'm not being open or balanced (or nice?).  Most people do not have the time to research every issue.  If more of us could just stop and think about statements made on issues we would be better off.

CaliforniaGirl500 said...

People, such as you and I, no longer feel empowered to elicit change.  OWS was a start but it lost steam with the Winter and they didn't have a clear agenda.  

One of the best things we can demand from our elected officials is to re-institute the Glass Steagall Act of 1933.  I'll quote myself:

"In 1933, in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash and during a nationwide commercial bank failure and the Great Depression, two members of Congress put their names on what is known today as the Glass-Steagall Act (GSA). This act separated investment and commercial banking activities. At the time, "improper banking activity", or what was considered overzealous commercial bank involvement in stock market investment, was deemed the main culprit of the financial crash. According to that reasoning, commercial banks took on too much risk with depositors' money." 

lisleman said...

I might differ a little with you on this but probably not by much.  I don't think corporations are evil but there are some non-caring (even criminal people) in corporations.  Greed does exist.  People cheat.  I enjoy trying to make money on the stock market but there are rules and maybe some old ones should be reinstated (combo investment/regular banks).

The other health care and insurance topic - we might match opinions very well.  Health care is one of the industries (other is fire fighting) that should not be run by for profit corporations.  It amazes me that some people would rather deal with insurance giants than the government in health care.  Neither would be prefect but the insurance industry has not done very well in my opinion.

My wife and I both agree "The Big Short" is great book about the housing crisis.


by Cole Scott