American Casino

Posted: October 02, 2009

A more-sober, less-personality-driven companion piece to Capitalism: A Love Story (i.e., no Michael Moore/Wallace Shawn tete-a-tetes), Alexander and Leslie Cockburn's American Casino focuses on the subprime-mortgage crisis that sent the economy tumbling into the Great Recession. With culprits like former Texas senator and finance committee honcho Phil Gramm, former Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., and executives at AIG - and with victims in the millions - the documentary details in no-nonsense, talking-head style how commercial and investment banks moved high-risk mortgages out into the economy, dumping debt and reaping profits in the process.

Interviewing stock traders, bankers, lawyers, and economists, the Cockburns explain the fundamentals of "credit derivatives" and how they're at the heart of the global financial meltdown that has had such a dire impact on homeowners across the land.

It's a scary tale, and the casino metaphor assumes greater - and darker - significance when you see folks like Denzel Mitchell, a Baltimore schoolteacher and homeowner threatened with foreclosure, being treated as if he were nothing more than a betting chip.

- Steven Rea

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