Charles H Ferguson's "Inside Job" is a documentary about the 2008 financial crisis. It examines the causes of the crisis and argues that, without major changes, another crisis just like it could easily happen again. The film begins by profiling deregulation polices in Iceland. It then draws a parallel to what has happened in the United States over the past thirty years. The film argues that several different U.S. presidential administrations did not do enough to prevent such a crisis from being possible. In the '90s, complex financial instruments called derivates became popular with investors. According to the film, despite concerns about economic instability, the federal government decided not to regulate derivatives.
Fergusons discusses the mild 2001 recession when the "dot com" bubble burst and the housing boom that followed. The housing market seemed very strong for several years before the crisis began, but trouble was stirring. Banks began to commonly lend subprime loans to clients with poor credit histories.
Ferguson blames several top executives at companies in the American financial sector for causing the economic crisis through greed and irresponsible behavior. The film depicts how these executives were able to preserve their own fortunes, while thousands of their employees lost their investments. According to the film, their actions led to the United States unemployment rate ballooning to over 10%, the highest it had been in decades. Meanwhile, high-ranking executives received millions of dollars in compensation, even when they were leaving or being forced out of their companies.
"Inside Job" also discusses how predatory loan policies by banks led to the housing crisis. Millions of homeowners were never going to be able to fully repay their home loans. It depicts how millions of homes entered foreclosure. Many houses sat empty and unoccupied.
Ferguson also criticizes the United States' credit rating agencies. According to the film, many insolvent companies had AA or AAA ratings just before they collapsed. The film argues that the ratings were deliberately inflated by employees who had conflicts of interest.
Finally, "Inside Job" discusses the aftermath of the crisis. It argues that very few of the people responsible for the crisis were held accountable. Ferguson criticizes the Obama administration's financial regulations as being too weak and limited.
Ferguson expresses himself in a cerebral, even-toned manner. He avoids the boisterous, bombastic behavior that is often seen in other political documentaries. The film is narrated by Matt Damon and is filled with energy and good humor.