Stories from Past Crises can Reveal New Insights as we Encounter huge Challenges
Right now, the best movies on the financial crises of 2008 and 2000 and stock trading in general are all trending on the streaming rental market, since they are nearly impossible to find on subscription based platforms such as Netflix, HBO Max, Disney +, etc.
As a result, paid views have skyrocketed, for example, on iTunes, where “The Big Short” is #3 and “Wolf on Wall Street” is #4
This surge applies to other films such as the excellent ‘Boiler Room” with Giovanni Ribisi. The films are all excellent and worth paying for if the chaotic craze with huge money gained and lost with GameStop, AMC and the whole Reddit, Robinhood brouhaha has you curious to learn more about the financial markets.
The reality is sinking in, slowly, that the future is truly unknowable and that big changes and even bigger challenges are looming. Twin shocks of a health emergency and a financial crisis, intertwined and yet with separate trajectories, are still to be resolved in our near future.
And then there’s the myriad of other challenges that were already acute, such as global warming and the “other” epidemic; corruption and greed. It’s almost too much to face up to, and no one can be blamed for wanting to just turn away.
Too much has been glossed over. After the 2008 crisis we all just wanted to put that ugly mess behind us and get on with our lives. I suppose the criminals that netted billions as a “reward” for almost destroying the entire global economy were also eager to just move on.
All that as it may be, perhaps, a way to begin the process of regaining our courage and looking into the future with some kind of hope, or at least a deeper understanding of the human dilemma and historical precedents, might be to enjoy films about small moments of triumph before great adversity. Here are a few recent options:
The Big Short:
Barely 12 years ago, the financial collapse and ensuing “Great Recession” was a nightmare scenario. The aftermath of that debacle is also a contributor to the economic dangers we see before us in 2020. This film, likely the best based on that era, highlights how outsiders and misfits were able to prosper, even as they witnessed the corruption, failure and systemic injustice that brought the world to the brink of total economic chaos.
Starring: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt.
Want know more about shorting? About the shady and complicated scams? And also see an incredible film?
‘Wolf of Wall Street’:
The Wolf of wall street is simply a great movie. It’s even better though if you watch it in the context of stock market mania. Just like the one that’s happening now.
Beyond the fact that the story is incredibly entertaining it does also get into the heart of the “pump & dump” boiler room mentality. While the so called ‘retail investors” who are riding the Robinhood stock purchasing app to what they see as well deserved revenge on Wall Street, and Belfort who was the real life “Wolf of Wall Street” was more of a wannabe that couldn’t get into the establishment.
He then set forth, with chutzpa and insanity and some drugs, built his own criminal empire, there are some very clear correlations between his tricks that made him rich and what the short-squeezing Reddit & Wall Street Bets chat room vigilantes are doing right now.
History does exist, even if it happened before your uncle was born
Up until 1934 many things were legal and rampant that today, technically, are not allowed. Insider Trading is the most obvious and best defined, look up Martha Stewart and jail time if you want to know more about that.
Collusion in the market is another less well known practice, also known as “pump & dump” that has as many variations as Ponzi schemes and, though illegal, will never be stamped out. The technical terms for Colluding in relation to stock trading are “securities fraud” or “market manipulation.”
Not to get technical but here’s an partial excerpt of the legal specifics:
15 U.S. Code § 78i – Manipulation of security prices
(a) – (2 To effect, alone or with 1 or more other persons, a series of transactions in any security registered on a national securities exchange, any security not so registered, or in connection with any security-based swap or security-based swap agreement with respect to such security creating actual or apparent active trading in such security, or raising or depressing the price of such security, for the purpose of inducing the purchase or sale of such security by others.
Anthropocene: The Human Epoch
For a bird’s-eye overview and scientific perspective – Athropocene is a film for those ready to think deeply on how, once beyond the immediate danger, we would want to emerge into a new era as a species. A positive reaction to the current crisis, worldwide, has been a series of ideas and proposals that show a willingness to confront the challenges from an entirely new perspective. Maybe new leadership can mean starting over and making a pledge to try a new approach to literally everything.
‘The film follows the research of an international body of scientists, the Anthropocene Working Group who, after nearly 10 years of research, argue that the Holocene Epoch gave way to the Anthropocene Epoch in the mid-twentieth century as a result of profound and lasting human changes to the Earth.”
This Depression era feel-good story takes on new meaning as we see a “Great Depression II” potentially looming. Looking for strength and courage facing forces that threaten our survival, and coming out at the end in a better place, that’s a synopsis and blueprint we can all benefit from observing, even if it’s packaged as a Hollywood vehicle. Russel Crowe at his best. Maybe worth a second look.
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