Money to ashes

The great greed and the financial crash

Arte documentary (2009)

These hedge fund managers have been like World War II bombers dropping their bombs 50,000 feet above the clouds without seeing their victims.” District Mayor Toni Brancatelli stands in a stripped house in Ohio, the neighborhoods resemble a ghost town after the real estate bubble burst. This is where the global financial and economic crisis began. Who were the players, who is responsible? The journey through the financial crisis leads from real estate speculation in the US provinces via the global trading centers of New York and London to Germany and France. “Fast money and greed, that’s all it was!” says Frank Jackson, Mayor of Cleveland, Ohio, “Who do you want to arrest?” asks his chief financial officer: “Every real estate agent, every appraiser, every borrower who declared a false income, every mortgage broker who perpetuated the fraud, the mortgage banks, Wall Street, the insurers and brokers who knew everything? There were millions involved and everyone is to blame in their own way.” Hedge fund manager Michael Bloch sums up the credo of the New York traders: “It doesn’t matter if the houses are crap if you can make money from them.” Rating agency employees, analysts, stock market traders – they all concede that the speculation was a great party that everyone knew had to end soon. And they also knew what this meant in very real terms: bankruptcies, mass redundancies, a massive loss of confidence, poverty. The victims are sitting in Germany’s largest shipyard, which is no longer receiving a single order, they are waiting in vain for loans as eco-entrepreneurs, they are protesting on the streets of Paris, they are desperately complaining in Berlin about the loss of their pensions. Latisha, who bought two junk houses in Cleveland, is also deep in debt. “400,000 dollars in debt? God, I don’t even know exactly how much it is.” The financial crisis is just one of the burst speculative bubbles of the neoliberal age. “Whoever wants more is right, that is the message that is broadcast on the economic surface by neoliberalism,” says philosopher Peter Sloterdijk, “and at the same time you want the losers to behave aristocratically, while the winners are allowed to behave greedily.

Author: Kersten Schüßler

camera: Thomas Hirschmann

Editing: Martin Eberle

Production: Rainer Regensburger (Bitcom)

Editor: Hans-Robert Eisenhauer (arte)