The funny side of recession

Director Adam McKay’s venture The Big Short uses comedy to examine financial crisis


Reuters December 09, 2015
Cast of the film includes Hollywood actors Brad Pitt and Ryan Gosling. PHOTO CREDITS: REUTERS

LOS ANGELES: It is not easy to find humour in the financial crisis that hit the US economy eight years ago, but The Big Short uses comedy as a lens to examine the intricacies and failures of Wall Street.

The movie, starring Christian Bale, Brad Pitt and Steve Carell releases in New York and Los Angeles on Friday. It takes a quirky look at the mortgage-backed security debacle that led to the US sliding into recession from 2007, and the money managers who bet against the financial might of the US economy. And it had nothing to do with short people.

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“I wanted to show that it [the financial collapse] was more about a system than it was about individuals,” said director Adam McKay. “We need banking. Banking is not, in essence, bad but we just need not corrupt banking.”

He adapted financial journalist Michael Lewis’ best-selling book The Big Short, by taking audiences on a farcical journey into the little understood world of high finance that led to the recession and some 8.7 million Americans losing their jobs.

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The Big Short follows real-life ‘shorts’ — investors that bet against rising stock and bond prices — portrayed by Bale, Pitt, Carell and Ryan Gosling.

The ‘shorts’ traders who are despised by ‘long’ investors who cheer markets to ever-rising financial heights, correctly saw that the housing boom of the 2000s was largely fueled by aggressive lenders who suckered people into borrowing more money than they could afford. 

Published in The Express Tribune, December 10th, 2015.

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