Economics is not only the study of money and its effects, but also the study of human behaviour, of why people do what they do. The global recession resulted in both macro and micro losses. The world’s unemployment rate spiked and many people either lost their jobs or gave up looking for one. When one sector of the economy fails, all others suffer as well, so that when the stock market nearly collapsed many regular people faced poverty and social problems. Some of the films on this list focus on recessions and its negative impact on individuals and their families, which are still felt today.
Luckily, one of the best things about films is that they are a way to bring complicated economic and business information to the public in a mainstream way. This allows the everyday person to learn about the powerful and seemingly unstoppable economic forces driving their lives from behind the scenes, and gain an awareness of the mass human behaviours that drives our economy.
By exposing more people to the inner workings of the financial system and what drives it, perhaps they can make an attempt to defy the lowest common denominator approach to finances and swim against the current of the mainstream to maximize their own economic benefits.
If nothing else, these films remind people of just how connected our world and economy has become, and that every ripple makes a difference, however small. In order to succeed in the modern economic landscape, it is essential to be both aware and skeptical of the financial information we are bombarded with on a daily basis. Now here are the five most influential economic- related films of the 21st century.
5 5: August
The film focuses on two brothers who do whatever it takes to keep their start-up company going during the initial stage of the stock market collapse. Meanwhile, the brothers live an exciting and luxurious life until something drastic happens that changes their country forever.
The film depicts how an attack on a country can negatively affect the economy and lead to a substantial down fall in the stock market.
4 4: The Bank
Directed by Robert Connolly, this Australian drama film stars David Wenham and Anthony LaPaglia. Even though The New York Post gave the film 1.5 out of 4 stars, the film received 6.7 out of 10 by viewers.
The 2001 film The Bank, focuses on a man who uses an advanced algorithm to predict and beat the stock market. The program attracted a cunning and ruthless financial business man who wanted to shut down all of the smaller financial firms that provide loans. Due to the foreclosure of these smaller financial firms, customers were forced to feel the pinch, especially when the economy fell into a recession.
The film truly depicts how people purse their own interests by using cost benefit analysis to dictate their actions. Further, it also reminds audiences who are watching that not all leaders make the best moral decisions.
3 3: The Company Men
This film, The Company Men, depicts a real-life scenario of the hardships faced by some corporate employees during a recession. Specifically, the film illustrates a hierarchical system in the corporate world and how a recession devastates some and enriches those who are on top. For instance, the CEO and managers are shown to have no setbacks while the ordinary employees who were laid off were shown to have difficulties in supporting their families and battling depression. Even in real-life, some selfish corporate leaders still lay off their employees in order to keep their businesses running more smoothly and to satisfy their stockholders without any thoughts towards the personal well-beings of others.
A recession affects the economy at a micro and macro scale. Often times, unemployment rises resulting in lower production and in turn lowering real GDP. The film implies a micro-level ideology; showing Affleck’s character’s hardship during his unemployment until landing a blue-collar job. During the unemployment time, the character experiences depression after the downsizing of his normal luxury life-style and social status he once had. This was partly due to the fact that the character’s consumption patterns were altered by his new income.
This 2010 film was rated a 6.8 out of 10 and received fairly good reviews, while many critics admired the film for its genuine echo of the USA during a similar recession.
2 2: Margin Call
The film, Margin Call, received 7.1 out of 10 and stars Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany, Demi Moore, Zachary Quinto and Jeremy Irons. This fascinating film explores the reasons behind the 2008 economic recession and how the underlying financial system is, in fact, the root cause of the problem.
Margin Call takes place on the eve of the financial collapse of 2008 at a major bank where it is discovered that toxic assets are about to implode the bank’s balance sheet and render them bankrupt. As the alarming news travels up, the decision is made to dump these toxic assets on the market, an action which effectively triggers the massive economic recession.
The film focuses on the financial system in place and the morals of the economic behemoths that run it. For example, when the CEO of the bank decides to dump his toxic assets on loyal customers, his reasoning was that if he doesn’t act someone else will, since they all bought into the same assets and have all taken on too much risk.
This shows how it is not the individual CEO or bank that is to blame, but the system of high finances where it is assumed that everyone will act strictly selfishly in their own interest, and that the only logical action is to act equally selfishly to benefit yourself because if you don’t someone else will. This philosophy is quite disturbing to most people, but those in charge of the stock markets believe that human nature’s ugly side will dominate every economic activity.
In order to prevent another colossal economic crash, it is necessary to change this mindset and the financial system within which leaders work in order to truly make a difference to our economy’s stability in the long run.
1 1: Moneyball
Moneyball is a critically acclaimed film that received a rating of 7.6 out of 10 and was nominated for many Oscars. Starring Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, this film is about how statistical methods of player selection, more commonly applied in the field of economics, would change the world of sports.
Moneyball tells the true story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland Athletics baseball team in 2002, who employed a Yale economic graduate named Peter Brand to help him turn his team’s fortunes around by employing statistical tests. Based on the book Moneyball: The Art of Winning and Unfair Game, this film explains how an increased focus on number crunching led to a more mathematical and economical approach to sports recruiting.
Using advanced statistics, such as the players’ on-base percentage, Brand advised Beane to hire players overlooked by other teams’ scouts, which allowed him to assemble an A-list team on an extremely low budget. This was a big controversy at the time, since most teams believed that you could not rely on pure numbers to choose players and there was a widely held notion that persists to this day that the more money you spend the better team you get, which is not always the case.
Using only statistical calculations, Beane hired unorthodox players and his team went on to win an astounding 19 games in a row, tying for the American Baseball League record, though his team did not make it to the playoffs. Yet, Beane was approached and offered a 12.5 million dollar contract to work for the Boston Red Sox, though he turned down the offer out of loyalty to his team.
In the end, Moneyball tells the real life account of how statistical methods, more commonly found in the field of economics, would forever change the way baseball teams and other sports team functioned.