Boom Bust Boom (2015) Movie Script

This film is about
the Achilles heel
of capitalism, how human nature drives the economy
to crisis after crisis time and time again. Every generation
thinks it's smarter than its
parents and its grandparents, and it never proves
to be the case. What happens is a crisis
fades into memory and then it becomes history. That is the reason we often give for why we study history
and why we teach history is to not have to repeat
the mistakes of the past. You ever seen the State of
the Union address where the
president comes on and says, "Guys, we're fucked." These booms and busts
will always be with us. It's in human nature
that they would be with us. And I've said before,
Mr. Deputy Speaker, "No return to boom and bust." ( all cheering ) ( footsteps ) The human strategies
we're seeing in real markets are just
really old. They're kind of leftover
the strategies from
35 million years ago. WILLEM H. BUITER:
It is very hard to, eh, understand why economists focus on models
in which crises
could not occur. They run the economy
based on science fiction models. That's why they had no
idea this crisis was coming because they ignored
banks, debt, and money. ( clattering hooves ) GEORGE MAGNUS:
We always thought
how lucky we were that we never actually
had to live through
in the 1929 crash and the 1930s
Great Depression, because
we are cleverer now and we know how to avoid
these kinds of accidents, and actually,
a lot of economists were absolutely adamant that
the worst would not happen because we know how
to deal with these things. And, of course,
the truth is, we didn't know
how to deal with them. TERRY JONES: In 1928,
President Calvin Coolidge gave his State
of the Union address in the following terms: In the domestic field, there is tranquility and contentment... and the highest record of years of prosperity, the great wealth created by
our enterprises and industry, and saved by our economy, has had the widest
distribution among
our own people. The country can
regard the present with satisfaction and anticipate the future with optimism. ( all applaud ) ( singing ) TERRY JONES: He didn't
know what we know now, that the United States
was about to suffer the worst economic
disaster in its then history. Our economy's healthy
and vigorous, and growing faster than other
major industrialized nations. The American people
have turned in an
economic performance that is the envy of the world. TERRY JONES: He didn't know
what we know now, that the worst crisis ever
to hit the Western economies was just around the corner. The crisis of 2008 is often referred to
as the subprime crash. In less than 15 years,
there was a huge rise in lending mortgages to people who basically
couldn't afford them. Ladies and gentlemen,
Harvey Rosen, Chairman of
the White House Council
of economic advisers speaking in 2007. The main that innovations
in the mortgage market have done over the
past 30 years is to let in the excluded,
the young, the discriminated against, the people without
a lot of money in the bank to use for a down payment. ( muttering agreement
and affirmation ) JONES: This reckless
lending to people who
couldn't afford a mortgage became known as
subprime lending, but the banks insisted they had eliminated risks
by statistical processing. When you look at how
banks managed risks, particularly before the crisis-- this is very interesting,
and quite funny actually. What they did was
to take risky assets, such as, um,
junk mortgages, slice them into little bits, repackage them
after mixing them
with all the risky bits, and then sell them
on to other banks
and financial institutions. And so these risks became uh, dispersed in
the financial markets, and nobody really knew
anymore where the risks were or for that matter,
nobody knew exactly
whether the... package of
financial products
that he was buying, that he was
investing in, was risky, whether it was very risky
or not risky at all. JONES: They sold these
packages to investors as very low-risk products. Banking organizations of
all sizes have made substantial strides over
the past two decades in their ability to
measure and manage risks. So, because we could not
observe risks anymore, we were telling ourselves,
"There is no risk." What's even worse
when you do this, risks become
connected with each other. You don't know exactly
how the risks are connected, but they are. In the pre-crisis period, we told ourselves a story about the bigger banks being able to spread their risk
across their balance sheet, which would then allow us as regulators to enable them to run
with lower safety margins. Everybody was
happy and confident that the mortgage market
had become more
efficient than ever. And I have said before,
Mr. Deputy Speaker, no return to boom and bust. Our economy is healthy
and vigorous, and growing faster than other
major industrialized nations. Everyone was convinced that this time,
it's different. ZVI BODIE:
The subprime crisis of 2008 was essentially
a bubble bursting. They lent lots of
money against houses. I've seen them in Gary, Indiana,
in Detroit, Michigan, that you can now buy
for ten grand. But they'd lent u-usually
about a hundred grand, so that poor people who'd
never, ever owned a house
before could own a house. When we take your
income and your wealth, you measure 620
on the FICO scale. 620? that's great. No, no, no, no, no.
You see, we financial wizards reckon 850 on
the FICO scale is good. And 300 is very, very bad. You see, most people score
about 725 on the FICO scale, and I'm afraid 620
is usually our cut-off point. Oh, dear, so, I won't get
my interest on the mortgage ( laughing )
Not so fast. You could still be eligible
for a stated-income
verified assets loan. What's that? That's where you
state your income and
we verify your wealth. Well, I'm worth
one million dollars. Oh... Can you prove it? Not really. Look, we really
want your money. Uh-uh, I mean, we really
want you to have this
interest-only mortgage. So, we can go down
the stated-income,
stated-assets route. What's that? You state your income
and assets and we
don't check them. Great! Well, eh, then-then that's
all signed and sealed. Believe it or not, this scene
or something like it, must have been played out
numberless times. In 2004 to 2005, more than a third
of all mortgages were no income,
no jobs or assets, that were nicknamed
"Ninja Loan." Hiyah! Hiyah! That's what this was about. It was about forcing loans onto people who
would never repay them, who would end up
getting foreclosed, in order to earn a fee
on the origination and another fee when they
were sold to some sucker
who would take the loss. The whole thing
becomes, eventually,
a bit of a con trick because, everybody thought
that asset prices would
continue to go up. The unimaginable happened. Housing prices
started to fall. That signaled to them that
they could never pay that debt, because they were relying
on the house price to rise as we all do in these bubbles. And then, um, like a,
string of dominoes, the very risky lenders knocked over
the risky lenders, knocked over
the normal lenders, and then they
all fell apart. Ain't got no home Ain't got no shoes Ain't got no money Ain't got no class Ain't got no skirts Ain't got no sweater Ain't got no perfume Ain't got no bed Ain't got no man JONES: The banks were
taking on more and more risk, Investing in the
financial economy instead of the real economy. The financial economy,
as it's become, is essentially making
money out of money, instead of investing
in firms and companies and contributing to
the real economy. So what happened to the banks
and the insurance companies that got involved in
the subprime lending? You can think of the-the
the end of 2007. What happened? The bank starts looking
a little more carefully
at their balance sheet. They look at the assets
they got and they say, "Wow, a lot of those
assets are trash. "Okay, we know that
these things are bad, "a high percentage of them, "and, um, some of our assets "are the I-O-U's
of other banks. I wonder if their balance
sheets are as bad as ours." And they started to think, "They probably are
because we're all doing
the same stuff." And then they say, " You know,
maybe when that loan comes due, "we should call it in, "say we're not going
to renew it anymore, "because we think, maybe, you could get in trouble
and we wont get paid." Suddenly, all the banks
started doing this. And, basically, that is when the global
credit markets froze up. Banks wouldn't lend
each other anymore. And so that turned into
a massive liquidity crisis, and that is what
set off the whole thing. So this layering
of debt on debt, financial institutions owing
other financial institutions, turns out to be
extremely dangerous. News you're waking up to: the American investment bank
Lehman Brothers has filed
for bankruptcy in New York. That's happened in
the last few minutes. It means the Wall Street
institution, which has been
in business for 150 years and survived
the Great Depression, is now the most high-profile
casualty of the credit crunch. JONES: It was not only
Lehman Brothers that went bust. In the U.S., Citigroup were
rescued by the U.S government with guarantees to the tune
of 300 billion dollars. AIG were bailed out for
a 182 billion dollars. The best things in life
are free But you can give 'em
to the birds and bees Bear Sterns was taken over
by J.P. Morgan after the U.S. government
secured them with a 30 billion dollar
guarantee. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, government-backed
mortgage lenders who were involved
in the sub-prime
mortgage lending, were rescued by
the Federal Housing
Finance Agency. Merrill Lynch was taken over
by the Bank of America. In the UK,
the Royal Bank of Scotland was bailed out
by the UK government for 20 billion pounds, HBOS was bailed out
for 13 billion pounds, and Lloyds
for 4 billion pounds, on exactly the same day,
October the 13th, 2008. Money don't get everything,
it's true But what it don't get,
I can't use Sir, another insurance company
is going under. Now determining most prudent
move for insurance company. ( chicken crowing ) Bailout! The most prudent move
is a bailout! I remember sitting, um...
uh, in a room. Bit like this one,
at the Treasury, back in 2008, around the time
of the Lehman crisis. We sat there. During the first half hour
of that meeting, the share price of one of the biggest banks
in this country fell by 50 percent. In the 2nd half hour
of that meeting, the share price
of that same bank rose 50 percent. We knew at that point,
this wasn't Kansas anymore. I mean, if the 2008 crash
didn't wake people up, um, I don't know what will. ( yawns ) Where do we go from here? How do we deal
with these financial crisis? And one of the
most important first steps is understanding
where we've come from. Financial crises aren't some new thing
that we're going into now. We've had many financial crises. The 19th century is filled
with financial crises, and even the 18th and 17th
and 16th century, and when you start looking
at all these different examples of economies
and their financial systems
and their crashes, you start to get
a much better understanding of what financial crisis
is about. The seeds that were sown were the same seeds
that were sown in all previous crises. So, if we look to what works
and what doesn't, no better lessons are there
than those from history. Tulip Mania started back
in 1562, when a ship from Constantinople
docked in Antwerp. Aboard was a cargo of tulips, the first to be seen in Europe. Oh, tulips,
precious tulips I kiss you
with my two lips Make me healthy,
make me wealthy Tulips precious tulips The tulips proved
to be a sensation amongst the rich merchants
of Amsterdam, then embarking
on their golden era. The merchants
built grand houses surrounded by flower gardens, and the star of the show
was the tulip. Tulips grew in prestige
and popularity, and prices began to soar. By 1636, a tulip bulb
could be worth a new carriage,
two grey horses, and a complete harness. Some bulbs were reportedly
changing hands over ten times a day. It seemed like everyone
could make money if only they bought tulips. A kind of euphoria
gripped everybody. But, on February the 5th, 1637, it all came to an end. At a tulip auction in Haarlem,
in the Netherlands, only the sellers of tulip
turned up. There were no buyers. Harlem was at that time
in the grip of Bubonic plague, so perhaps that's why
no one wanted to go out
and buy tulips. But the damage was done. The bottom fell out
of the tulip market. Bulbs that had
commanded the price
of 5,000 guilders sold for fifty. This is what economists
call a bubble. Well, a bubble is
a financial episode in which the price of assets, whether it's tulips,
or equities, or gold, basically becomes
completely detached from any intrinsic value. Being in a bubble,
is like... yeah, it's a state
of extreme hope and
excitement and stupidity. And it can continue
for as long as people believe that there is something
magical or new about the valuation today. In every boom-and-bust cycle, there is a period
of exceptionalism. "This time, it's different. Everything is different." And, there's always
a cool excuse, and things like, "Well,
you know, our demographics
are different." Or, you know, "This time,
interest costs really
are very low." Or "inflation
has been solved." Or, "Oh, there's a boom
in gold mining." You know, tulips--
tulips were the first ones. "This is the first time
you'll ever be able
to buy these tulips. You must get in now." There's always a reason
why you'd want to suspend your rational
faculties and buy into this. Normally, it's because
you look around, and you see
everybody else doing it. In 1711,
the British government was deep in debt,
to the tune of 9 million pounds. A couple of entrepreneurs named Edward Harley
and John Blunt devised a scheme
to rescue the government. Instead of repayment, anyone to whom
the government owed money was obliged to accept shares in a company called
The South Sea Company. At the same time,
the South Sea Company was given
the exclusive right to the monopoly of trade
with South America. Conveniently overlooked was the fact that Spain, with whom England was at war, controlled all the trade
with South America and had done so
for 200 years. But hopes were high, and the scheme
was a phenomenal success. In 1713, the war ended. Spain then allowed Britain
precisely one ship a year of no more than 500 tons to trade with South America, and one quarter
of the proceeds was to go
to the King of Spain-- not exactly a winning scheme
for a bankrupt country. And, in 1718, the war
with Spain broke out again, and the company's assets
inside South America
were seized, and any prospects
of profit from trade disappeared overnight. But, unbelievably,
hopes were still high. The South Sea Company
talked up the value of its potential trade
with South America, aided by politicians
and members of the government, who were in on the act, and the price of shares rose from 128 pounds in January to 330 pounds in March, 890 pounds in early June, and finally 1000 pounds
in early August. All good bubbles have to burst, and the South Sea bubble burst
in a spectacular fashion. From 1000 pounds in August, the stock fell to a hundred
by the end of the year. With the collapse
of the stock price, thousands of people
were ruined, including Sir Isaac Newton, who lost the equivalent of 2.4 million pounds, and about which,
his niece reported he never liked
to talk about. Newton said, "I calculate
the movement of stars, but not the madness of men." I hope he included
himself in that. The South Sea Bubble
is a perfect example of what is called euphoria. One of the things
we have to control is this tendency for people to go
through these periods, a sort of mass euphoria
and mass pessimism. When people become very
optimistic about the future and they project this optimism into the prices of assets, there can be
an asset bubble. And prices go up,
and when prices go up, people say, "Oh, seems like
people are optimistic
about the future. I should be optimistic too." And so I buy those assets,
and that pushes the price
up a little more. Prices move
completely out of line with any sort of reality or any earnings basis
or, in housing market, any sort of income basis, and it becomes
a self-fulfilling bubble. If you think
you're investing in tulips because you can always sell
the tulips to somebody else at a greater price, you're not investing,
you're speculating. And there is a difference. One is... has a real impact
on the economy, the other is just people handing
money back and forth, and hoping,
that after a while, when the music stops,
they'll be the one who isn't holding the parcel,
who is holding the money. And again, that's okay.
Let them do that. But just don't do it
with your family home
and all your money. When you're in a bubble,
you can't see outside of it, so there's no way of actually knowing
or recognizing it
as it's happening. It looks like success,
it feels like success, which is even more dangerous. Bubbles of the past, you know how they ended. And, when they ended, you understood,
where they had ended. This one hasn't ended yet, so it's completely different
from your memory of the others. It's very hard
to remind yourself of that in the boom times, because everyone else
is making a lot of money, and you naturally wanna make
a lot of money with them. And if you don't,
in fact you're kind of a fool. It's one of the really
great mysteries of economics that if everybody
decides it's okay, it really is okay. And if everybody decides
it's a disaster, it really is a disaster. So, everybody believing it
is a certain way makes it a certain way. From the 1950s to the 1970s, John Kenneth Galbraith was probably the most
famous economist in the world. Recurrent descent into insanity is not a wholly attractive
feature of capitalism. J.K. Galbraith
was vociferous about-- about speculative euphoria, and about why periods
of speculative euphoria just keep on happening
over periods of time. It's very much human behavior, but also our failure, uh,
to be able to deal with the worst consequences
of that euphoria. ( train chugging ) You cannot lose
with the railways They are the coming thing So come and invest
in the railways Great fortunes
for all they will bring TERRY JONES: In the 1840s, railways were promoted
as foolproof investments. Shares in them could be bought
for a 10 percent deposit. The snag was that the railway
company reserved the right to call in the remainder
at any time. Thousands of investors
on modest incomes brought large numbers
of shares while being only able
to afford the deposit. Families put their
entire savings into
prospective companies and lost everything
when the bubble burst, without knowing they took
ten times more risk
than was reasonable, and nobody prevented them
from doing so. The disreputable history
of financial euphoria goes on and on. TERRY JONES: The '20s was
an age of prosperity, but the wealth
wasn't sharedevenly throughout
the population. In 1929, the top five percent
of the population received approximately
one third of all personal income. Now the richest
five percent of humans can't eat
more than the rest of us, so they are compelled to spend
their money on luxury items such as property
or invest in stocks, thereby hoping
to increase their wealth. Not only the wealthy,
but middle class Americans were displaying what
John Kenneth Galbraith
described as... an inordinate desire
to get rich quickly with a minimum
of physical effort. TERRY JONES:
The Stock Exchange
in New York boomed. In May 1928,
the volume of shares
reached 5 million, an all-time record. The trouble was that
many investors weren't using their own money. They were borrowing
money to buy stocks. This is known in the financial
world as "buying on margin." TERRY JONES: Say you have
two hundred dollars and you borrow
eight hundred more to invest
a thousand dollars in stocks. If the price of stocks
goes up 30 percent, you make a 150 percent profit. After you repay the
eight hundred dollars, you now have five hundred
dollars for yourself. But if the price of stocks
goes down 30 percent, your stocks end up being
worth only 700 dollars, but you still need
to repay the 800 dollars. You now owe the bank
a hundred dollars. The problem is that borrowing
money to buy stocks, "buying on margin," although it amplifies
the gains, it also
amplifies the losses. You can end up owing
money to the bank without
having a penny left. TERRY JONES:
By the end of 1928, folk were swarming
to buy stocks on margin. In other words, speculation
had taken a hold on people like never before. Never before or since
have so many become so wondrously, so effortlessly,
and so quickly rich. You might say
what is the difference between speculation
and gambling? Well, uh, a Journalist,
Will Payne, explains in this edition
of World's Work. A gambler only wins
because somebody
else loses. When you invest
in stocks and shares,
everybody wins. One investor buys shares
in General Motors
at a hundred dollars. He then sells it to another
for 150 dollars, who sells it to
a third for 200 dollars. Everybody makes money! TERRY JONES:
It's like conjuring, continually pulling
rabbits out of hats. And like conjuring,
it's an illusion. What Will Payne forgot
is that the stock prices
could also go down. But as long as the price
of stocks is increasing, everybody is happy
to run with it. The illusion takes hold
of formerly rational people. TERRY JONES:
Such as the Chairman of the Democratic National
Committee, John J. Raskob, who wrote an article entitled
"Everybody ought to be rich." RASKOB: Anyone who saves
15 dollars a month, invested it in sound
common stocks, and spent no dividends, would be worth some
80,000 dollars after 20 years. TERRY JONES:
Raskob wasn't aiming his
scheme at the middle classes, but at the
ordinary working man. The press was unanimous
in its praise of Raskob's
Debt Speculation Machine, a practical utopia, the greatest vision of
Wall Street's greatest mind. But not everyone was singing
from the same hymn sheet. Roger Babson, an entrepreneur
and business theorist, started to warn
about a market crash
as early as 1926. BABSON: Sooner or later
a crash is coming. Factories will shut down,
men will be thrown out of work. The result will be
a serious depression. TERRY JONES : Paul Warburg was
a banker and an early advocate of the U.S. Federal
reserve system. PAUL WARBURG:
If the present orgy
of unrestrained speculation is not brought to a halt, there will ultimately
be a general depression involving the entire country. Ah, Warburg's obsolete! Yeah, he's sandbagging
American prosperity. TERRY JONES:
Wall Street roundly
denounced Babson and Warburg. The consensus of judgment of
the millions whose evaluations on that admirable market,
the Stock Exchange, is that stocks are
not at present overvalued. The economic condition
of the world seems on the verge
of a great forward movement. Stock prices have
reached what looks like
a permanently high plateau. Where is that group of men
with the all-embracing wisdom which will entitle them
to veto the judgment of
this intelligent multitude? This advert appeared
in the Saturday Evening Post a few weeks before
the meltdown of 1929. MAN: "In 1719, there
was practically no way
of finding out the facts. "How different the position
of the investor in 1929! For now, every investor has
at his disposal, facilities
for obtaining the facts." 24 October is
the first of the days which history identifies
with the panic of 1929. That day, almost
13 million shares changed hands, many of them had prices which
shattered the dreams and hopes
of those who owned them. By 11:30, the market
had surrendered to blind,
relentless fear. Thousand of speculators
who previously had only
seen the market rising now discovered the problem
with buying on margin, as brokers sent telegrams
demanding huge amounts of cash. VINTAGE NARRATOR:
This was the case in 1929 when the overinflated
American economy, and the stock market
which fueled it, crashed. By the end of the year,
banks all over the country
were closing their doors as frightened people clamored
to reclaim their savings. To many, many watchers,
it meant that their dream-- in fact, their brief reality
of opulence-- had gone glimmering
together with home, car, furs,
jewelry and reputation. ( footsteps ) GALBRAITH: Tuesday, 29, October,
was the most devastating day in the history of the
New York Stock Market. ( paper rustling ) TERRY JONES:
The 1929 Wall Street crash was a deep
and prolonged crisis, different from some of
the previous panics in history. It combined euphoria
with massive borrowing. And speculation combined
with borrowed money is the most toxic
combination in capitalism. Yeah, yeah, I need
the crystale dropping popping I need diamonds
rocking rocking I need that money money I need that money, money I need that money, money We came out of
the Great Depression with hardly any
private sector debt. Households and firms
were not very indebted, partly because
they went bankrupt, partly because
they paid down debt and for generations Americans
were afraid to get into debt. Corporations were
afraid to get into debt. Okay, but gradually
over time because the economy
performed fairy well, gradually the memories
of the Great Depression faded and the new generations
became more willing to borrow, both households and firms, and these debt ratios
started to climb. In United States if you
look at the long sweep
of, uh, history, you'd discover that there
have been two great peaks
of private debt as a share of income. One of them occurred in 1929,
the other one occurred in 2008. The road to financial crisis--
often at least-- begins with private sector
getting careless about debt. Debts is all about debts, uh... people took on large amounts
of debt hoping that sort of wonderful things would
happen in the future that would
allow them to repay them. Nothing is ever learned
for long. We forget. People who learned that lessons,
who lived those lessons, died. And their children viewed
the Great Depression as, as a historical episode. But why does it happen
time after time throughout the centuries? TERRY JONES:
In the 1960s, '70s, and '80s,
the economist Hyman Minsky proposed the financial
instability hypothesis. -Hi, Dad.
-Oh, hello, son. -Sit down.
-Sure. -Now, listen up, Alan.
-I'm all ears, Dad. The essence of the financial
instability hypothesis is that financial traumas-- You mean crashes and such? Exactly. Occur as
a normal function in
a capitalist economy. This does not mean
the economy is always tottering on
the brink of disaster. I should hope not.
What kind of sys-- Son, be serious. The normal functioning
of an economy with a robust
financial situation is both tranquil
and on the whole successful. But tranquility
and success are not
self-sustaining states. You mean stability
leads to more optimism and therefore more borrowing
in stocks and houses. Uh-huh. And this leads
to a transformation
over time of an initially robust
financial structure into a fragile structure. Wait, let me
get this straight. After a deep depression, governments impose regulations
on the financial world. There follows
a period of stability, but the problem
with this stability is that it breathes
overconfidence. Overconfidence leads
to financial euphoria, during which time
the politicians relax
the regulations. This then leads
to excessive borrowing, and excessive borrowing
and euphoric bubbles
cause instability. By Jove,
I think my boy's got it. Well, I've been hearing
about it at the dinner table since I was six. Hyman Minsky
used to say, uh, stability is destabilizing. It causes people
to get overconfident, it causes people to forget about the underlying
nature of the system, that it's
inherently unstable,
inherently unstable. But it's
a powerful hypothesis. And the hypothesis
is actually, basically that, there are long cycles in which people forget about
the dangers of debt forget about
the dangers of being
a highly leveraged. That goes both for
borrowers, for lenders, for government regulators,
everybody, And the last financial
crisis recedes into the fog of memory, and that sets you up
for the next one. He predicted that financially
complex capitalism creates crashes, creates
massive booms and busts, that can on some occasions
reach the scale of 1929. So, it, 1929,
can happen again. That's "Minksy-anism." ( piano plays ) Hyman Minsky says
a bubble's in three stages. The hedge participants
are first in line. What they save
or make or get Pays the interest
on their debt The economy is
looking pretty fine The second stage involves
some speculation Speculators borrow cash
to buy more shares And as long as
the market rises There are no
nasty surprises But when it falls
It take them unawares Things have gotten
really quite unstable This is where the
dangerous stage begins People borrow more To pay their interest
as before And in the end it's just
the bank that wins But he was not himself,
uh, a banker. Okay, he was not himself,
so he had a bigger picture. He was able to
step back from this and understand
the system as a whole. For someone to write about
financial instability in the late 1950's
as he was doing, you know, this was a period
that at least on the surface was the most
financially stable period
United States had ever had, and so it didn't seem like what he was saying
was relevant, uh, to the kind of
economy we'd developed. JOHN CASSIDY: And, all the guys
in Harvard and MIT and Chicago and all
the other universities who said, look,
the financial system
is perfectly stable, what are you
talking about, Hyman? So, he was discredited,
really, inside the profession. And then suddenly, 2008,
everything goes to hell, the financial system
has basically blown up
the world, he's the man who warned that this could happen
25 years earlier, so everybody suddenly
becomes a Minskyite. Anyone who read that stuff could've seen
the crisis coming. So, the Queen asked,
you know, "Why didn't you guys
see it coming?" The answer is
they didn't read Minsky. If they had read Minsky,
they absolutely would
have seen it coming. It was really clear. You know, this is
what a boom looks like. This is in a euphoric...
system. This is what these
asset booms look like. Minsky was absolutely right. He was dead on. Which rather
begs the question, how is it we forgot about not just his work but others' work, in the period
prior to the crises. I don't just mean the three
or four years, I mean the three
or four decades when economics pursued a path that ruled out
Minsky-type dynamics for what was going wrong. Like many other people in
my economic profession, we probably didn't even
know who he was. Well, Minsky
was inconvenient. He operated always
on the margins of the... hierarchy of the
economics profession. Uh... and that made him... relatively
easy to disregard. It's a paradox, actually,
with my father, as to why he was ignored, because the very, perhaps,
reasons he was ignored, were the very reasons he
eventually became so celebrated. Hy Minsky was
a remarkably warm individual. And, I don't know
how many economists
you've ever met, okay? But that's not
particularly a trait that economists
are well known for. In university lectures, when outside professors
were brought in, Minsky would appear to be either asleep or reading the newspaper. But, as soon as
the Q-and-A time came, it was always obvious
he was the most brilliant
person in the room, who actually knew
what had been going on, and, um,
knew what was wrong with it. Minsky was a brilliant man. I only, eh... went
to a few of his lectures at Edinburgh and Cambridge, but he was very captivating. Even Minsky predicts that his warnings will
again go unheeded and he will be forgotten. So it seems like now is the time
when he's being remembered, and, hopefully maybe
he's wrong, we won't forget
what he is saying. One of the ironies about
the 2008 crisis is that, um, Minsky's books
were out of print. His last book,
Stabilizing An
Unstable Economy, as the crash was happening, and as asset prices
were falling, uh, the price of
his book was being bid
up and up and up, because everyone
wanted to read his book
about the, uh, about the crises
that was happening. Stability leads
to instability. Euphoria makes us blind. And we take
irresponsible risks that eventually
lead to disaster. So stable
and booming markets make us blind to
the increasing risks. But can we measure
this blindness? Well, yes. There is an index
based on the price people are willing to pay for protection
against the market crash. This is the market traded
price of risk. And what is interesting is that this price of risk actually declines to very low levels during periods
when stock markets go sky high
and instability grows. So our perception
of risk runs contrary
to the actual risk. In the crash of 2008, the price of risk was at
its lowest level ever. You're not allowed
to teach that in universities. You can, but you won't
get a chair of economics at a major, prestigious,
global university. Only the economics
that says capitalism's stable can be thought
at these universities. The conventional
economic model which is used
to run the economy is known as the free market, or neoclassical
economic theory, and it is based on the idea that we are all rational
when it comes to money, that the economy
will always find itself
in an equilibrium, and the bubbles
simply can't happen. Neoclassical economics
is this wonderful thing. It's useful, actually. I use it myself
all the time. It says, let's posit a world
of perfectly rational people operating in perfectly
competitive markets and see how they interact, and see what kind of,
you know, properties. And, it turns out that
if the world really
was like that, there would be all kinds
of nice things. So economists, uh, think about the world using, uh, models. And what does that mean? Okay, that's
a simplified version
of the world, um, taking out one or two or
maybe three essential features of the world and acting as if those are
the only features of the world, and, and building-- building out the
consequences of those
three kind of features. Models are just stories. You know, they say,
if you do this, then that will happen.
That's all they are. If you choose the three
most essential features, then you have a good model. If you choose three features that are not very essential, then you have a model that's not really gonna
help you with your problem. It's a useful-- it's
an intuition pump, right? It helps you think about
why markets sometimes
work really well, helps you think
about something. But if you start
to believe that
it is not a... helpful, ah, fairytale, but actually the truth,
then you're in big trouble, because the world
doesn't work like that, and at times like this,
depression times, it really doesn't
work like that. So neoclassical economics
is a potential trap. So if I put it
really at its simplest, you build a model
where you say, we assume depressions
are not possible. That unfortunately,
is not the world we live in. Conventional economists
don't like to model debt into their economic models because debt makes
the models unstable, so they omit it altogether. It's modeling
what is easier to model rather than what is
happening in the real world. They-they will not break
away from this 19th century, uh, heuristics
that they thought would make it easier
to solve the problem. In fact, they've made
it far harder, and it's why they had no idea
this crises was coming because they ignored
banks, debt, and money. It was a serious, serious
professional problem. We had a situation-- to compare it to doctors
for a second, real doctors. We had a situation where
the patient was bleeding, but we didn't really recognize
the presence of blood. Like, it's that serious,
you know. Why doesn't it appear
ridiculous to economists to use models
without money? Uh, I'm
an economist myself, and it does appear
ridiculous to me. So, there's at least
one exemption to that, and quite a few others
to be sure. It is very hard
to, uh, understand the reasons why economists
focused on models, eh, in which crises, eh, could not occur, were impossible. I think economics
has this lure that the moment we can
explain something in a beautiful model,
it's just elegant. And you want the world
to be elegant. One dream One soul One prize One goal One goal One golden glance Of what should be It's a kind of magic One shaft Of light That shows the way No mortal man Can win this day It's a kind of magic The bell that rings Inside your mind Is challenging The doors of time The waiting seems Eternity The day will dawn Of sanity is this a kind of magic? I think deregulation
has about it a sort of natural bubble, which is that
when you allow people a massive amount of freedom, they enjoy it. Key parts of
the regulatory apparatus were being run by people who didn't believe
in their job. They-- they believed
that their job was to get out of the way of the banks, or to-- or even
to help the banks, but not to--
not to protect us from-- uh, from banks gone bad. We had a banking system with regulators
who encouraged risk-taking. They positively encouraged
and rewarded risk-taking, and politicians
stood up and said that not just risk-taking
is all right, guys, they said
the risk-taking is good. The riskier the better. We are sure that everything Is hunky-dory,
that's our story Everything will
work out fine Like good wine,
it just needs time Market freedom is the thing To cure all ills
and that's why we sing Keep the markets
free, free, free For all eternity,
that's the only way to be We have a free market
ideology that says the more you remove the state from the market, the more the market is
allowed to do what it does, which is to-- to bring millions of decisions by people, every day,
together, in a way that provides
a rational outcome. So, the market is
our collective rationality. I suppose
the free market ideology is where you have
a fundamental belief that markets are
the optimum way to create wealth and to distribute
goods and services
throughout society. CASSIDY: Alan Greenspan
sort of exemplified the rise or the comeback
of free market economics after it had been discredited
in the 1930s. You can really trace the whole rise of it
through his career, actually. He was a man who had,
for decades, applied a certain way
of thinking. And... and he was-- And he made
very significant decisions that influenced
the economy of the world based on that framework. Alan Greenspan, I think,
had deep, deep belief in lack of regulation. Right? And, so, he basically, eliminated many
of the regulations, allowing all the economic agents to act as they wished. And that framework
assumed that-- that the agents in the economy
are rational... including banks. There is a book called Maestro
written about him, describing him as a genius for not having listened
to naysayers who said, "You should
slow this expansion down." KRUGMAN: The crash was,
in fact, the proof that the Greenspan view
that markets were self-policing, self-regulating
was all wrong. CASSIDY: So, he was hauled
before Congress to, you know, say, well, you know,
"You've been telling us
all for years we don't need
financial regulation, we don't need to
worry about the market. What went wrong?
Did anything go wrong?" And he said, "Partially.
Something partially went wrong." And they said, "What would you
mean by that Mr. Greenspan? You know, uh,
what partially went wrong?" You found a flaw in...
reality-- GREENSPAN: The one flaw
in the model that I perceived as the critical
functioning structure that defines how the world
works, so to speak. In other words,
you found that your-- your view of the world,
your ideology was not right. -It was not working.
-GREENSPAN: That it. How do I-- Precisely. You know, I-- That's precisely
the reason I was shocked because I've been going
for 40 years or more with very considerable evidence that it was
working exceptionally well. Quite amazing when he said that
my view of the world was wrong. it was a startling admission, an indication that... perhaps there was some-- some humility
and hope for redemption um, in Mr. Greenspan, which turns out
to have been untrue. Uh, almost immediately,
he went right back to pronouncing with great certainty and impeccable wrongness
about everything. CUSACK: We really, sort of,
made people like Greenspan these, kind of, holy bishops, and every word that
they said was reinforced. I mean, they were popes
or something, or cardinals. And, so, I think for this guy to come-- come on
and have to admit that basically everything
that he believed was wrong, um, just shows you that
this is a-- this is a joke. You're all individuals! ALL: Yes!
We're all individuals! You're all different! Yes! We're all different. -MAN: I'm not.
-ALL: Shh! Shh! If you try and read economies
purely rationally, I think that's
a real mistake because economies operate
with a herd mentality, sure. But it's a herd made up
of human beings who are very you know, complicated,
and sometimes irrational. I think the market is not
our collective rationality. It can be, but it can also be
our collective irrationality, and what was wrong
with economics is that it ruled out
the possibility of irrational outcomes. That's the thing about
free market economics. It is a sort of ideology, and once you
start believing in it, um, it does sort of provide
a sort of framework to explain the world. And they were sort of
trapped inside their
own ideologies, really. JONES: I guess it's about time to factor human nature
into economics. We've come to Puerto Rico to go to that island,
over there, Monkey Island. Monkey Island is a very funny
place in Puerto Rico. It's an island just off
the southeast coast that's home to about
a thousand free-ranging
rhesus monkeys. It's a wonderful place to really observe
monkey behavior in the wild and set up studies to study how irrational
they are sometimes. I think,
'cause I study monkeys, people think
I'm interested in monkeys. But really,
I'm interested in people, and I find that monkeys are
this fascinating window into what people are like. You're down here,
you're watching them, like, hang out with their friends,
and groom, and strive for power,
and getting resources,
and, like, it's just this little
evolutionary microcosm of what we're like without
language and cellphones and all this stuff
of the 21st century. One of the things
we really wanted to do to understand human choice is to see if monkeys would make some of the same smart decisions
and bad decisions. It tells something about
where we came from
evolutionarily and how we're designed
to make decisions. So we introduced the monkeys to their
own new monkey currency. I've one here.
It's a monkey-- It's got little
bite-marks on it. Um, but this is
the monkey currency. We gave it to them
and taught them they could trade these
with humans for food. I believe it's the
only non-human currency
in the world. It is, in fact.
It's probably very--
It's worth a lot, so I'm gonna
keep it in my pocket. SANTOS: First they just traded
with one person. They got good at that.
And now, they get actually,
a choice of people, and they get to pick
who they want to trade from. And each person in the market,
sort of, shows the monkey,
in a little dish, you know, "Here's
what you can buy." And then, uh, the monkey
just gets to choose. And they have
a little wallet of tokens that they can, kind of,
spend between the experimenters. The monkeys meet experimenters who don't always give the same amount of food
that they show. So, they have one amount
of food in their dish, but then, they can, kind of,
vary over time. Um, so, the monkeys can,
uh, say, meet an experimenter who looks like
he's selling one grape, which seems like
a pretty good deal, but every time
the monkey pays him, the monkey actually gets two. So, the monkey's like,
"Wow, this is great ...," right? The monkeys also meet
this other guy and they realize this guy starts
with three grapes. He looks like
he's a really good deal. But every time
the monkey pays him, he takes one away
to give the monkeys just two. Now, both of these guys,
the guy that, you know, looks like he's giving one
but he gives two, versus the guy that looks like
he's giving three but gives two, they ultimately
give the monkey two, right? If the monkey
was being rational, he would just shop randomly
between the two. But what we find
is that the monkeys overwhelmingly shop
at the guy who starts with one
and gives them two-- the guy who looks like
he's giving a bonus-- even though, in fact, the monkeys are getting
the same amount of food. JONES: I'm going back
to the 2008 crash. What-- what effect did
that have on your research? Oftentimes when you
study monkeys, you're studying, uh,
whether the monkeys can do all the smart things
that humans do like tool use and language and all these
incredibly smart things
that people do. And often, the monkeys
come up a bit short. And, so, it was really
a game-changer for the research because we could
now ask the question, not "Are monkeys similar
to humans because monkeys
are so smart?" We could ask,
"Are monkeys similar to humans because in some ways
they're so dumb?" Uh, my colleague, Keith Chen,
is fond of saying, you know, if you plotted
the monkey's data and you didn't know the data
were from a monkey, you would just expect
that they were from
a real human market. The human strategies
we're seeing in real markets are just
evolutionarily really old. They're kind of
leftover strategies
from 35 million years ago. KAHNEMAN: Not only do people value outcomes
as gains and losses, they value losses
a lot more than gains. But it leads to
this bias where losses, these changes that go
in the negative direction, we go in the red, they just feel
emotionally more powerful than these changes
in a positive direction, and that can lead us to do
all kinds of crazy things. We're so trying to avoid these small relative changes
in the red that we do things
like take on more risk. JONES: What can we
do about that? SANTOS: The idea is that
we just have to admit
that we have these biases, that they're old
and hard to get rid of, and then we kind of
have to design policies and markets and systems
around them. I'm quite skeptical about the idea that individuals can
make themselves smarter or can make them
de-bias themselves. A little, not much. On the other hand,
I think organizations, if they are very conscious
of what they want to accomplish, they, quite possibly,
can put in place procedures that will
protect them from different kinds of errors. We change the system
rather than our behavior. Yeah, like, I mean,
we've had these strategies for 35 million years. That is an evolutionary
enormous amount of time. We're not gonna just
kind of override them because in 2008,
we did some dumb things. Like, those things
are here to stay. We're gonna be
much better off if we change the system
around those biases. So, hey, we're not rational, but we can be smart enough
to set up the system to allow us to thrive even though we have
these biases that are
a little bit dumb. The real problem here is not the particular events that kicked off
the crash in 2008, the real problem is the way
the banking system is designed. There are two things,
really, about it. I mean, one is to understand the systemic nature
of financial instability. But the other part of it,
actually, is if you do understand the systemic nature
of instability, then, lots of other things
have to change. If you are determined to make sure that it--
it doesn't come back uh, you know,
within ten or 15 years and-- and bite you
in the backside again. We've come up,
as human beings, with the most fragile design
of financial system we could possibly think of. So, we need to re-think what we need
a financial system for, and then design one that will, uh, provide
those various functions. And that might mean
separating out the retail,
the basic banking stuff, from the rather higher-octane
investment banking stuff. And then, we can have another part
of the financial system that does riskier stuff, but we don't allow them to, you know, take funds away from households, from firms, from pension funds. We can redesign cars, so why can't we redesign
the economic system? I got a hundred-dollar check
from my grandma, and my dad said I need
to put it in the bank so it can grow over the years. Well, that's fantastic. A really smart decision,
young man. We can put that check
in a money market mutual fund. Then we'll reinvest
the earnings into
foreign currency accounts with compounding interest,
and it's gone. Uh, what? It's gone.
It's all gone. -What's all gone?
-The money in your account. It didn't do too well.
It's gone. What do you mean?
I--I have a hundred dollars! Not anymore you don't.
Poof. Well... But what can I do
to get back my-- I'm sorry, sir, but this line
is for bank members only. I just opened an account. Do you have any money
invested with this bank? No, you just lost it all. Then please stand aside
for people who actually have money
with us. Next, please. Today there,
the crisis in particular has caused a lot of students
to want to learn economics. This happened with the
Depression generation as well. Many of the people,
like Hyman Minsky, came into economics because of that experience
of their childhood. They felt
this was something important that they needed to understand. They didn't find the economics
that they were taught to be very helpful. The average Ph.D. economist
would train for five years, and they would never learn
anything about the history of the economic system
that had preceded them. If you would spend the class,
uh, for a whole semester, and you learn about one
financial crisis after another, it might occur to that student that financial crises are
a regular part of an economy, whereas if you don't
really make that the focus
and you kind of mention, "Yeah, oh, yeah,
there was a crisis here,
there was a crisis there," it's a lot easier
to convince a student
that crises aren't natural, that it's some fault
of a government or some particular action that caused the crisis in
this peculiar situation, but that's not the normal
tendency of an economy. WOMAN: We're all
undergraduates at the
University of Manchester, and we're members of the Post-
Crash Economics Society. We set up
at the end of last year 'cause we feel that our
economics education so far has been quite limited. One of the main issues
is that economics has been caught
in this trap where... uh... Funding for universities
is entirely determined, well, by and large
determined, by research. And the research
that is going to get published is the mainstream,
is neoclassical economics. As a result, that's what
we're being taught. The beauty of science,
of true science,
physics, chemistry, is that there is a--
there is a debate
between key theorists, between, you know,
different ideas. Whereas, in economics,
that debate simply
isn't big enough, or it's not large enough,
and that's what
we're fighting for. Our education
produces economists
who do believe that their type of economics
is the only way
to do economics. I mean, there's
very little of our degree which is devoted
to analyzing what happened in 2008
and what happened
in the 1920s, which I think must be
a fundamental part
of any economics degree. -Yeah.
-It's embarrassing... going home and people asking,
"Oh, so you do economics? What happened in 2008?" And I can't tell them. What I think we'd all like
to see is, you know, economists with a critical mind
coming out of university, and into the city
and into public policy. And you'll have--
and hopefully you-- you'll have policy
that reflects as well. You'll have a financial
sector that reflects that rather than just, you know,
this one-dimensional myopia. We want to be economists
and we want to see economists coming out of universities that can engage
with the real world economy, whereas at the moment
we don't feel we can. That's what we think
is the point of economics. I think that's sort of
gotten lost somewhere. The way you change
the teaching of economics is to change the teachers. It's as simple as that. You're not gonna
get into a situation where... the teachers who spent decades
building up expertise in very mainstream approaches
are going to simply say, "Oh, yes, well, that was
all a complete waste of time. I'm gonna go do something else."
They simply won't. Right. Now, listen up. ( grunting ) And so, what I think is,
the professors start parroting
these party lines. I think you should just
pelt them with vegetables and rotten fruit,
and maybe urinate on them. That's what, I mean,
that's what I'd do. And there's gonna have to be
a different approach
to how this stuff is taught. It shouldn't be taught
as branch of physics. It should be taught
as a piece of history, or as an idea that economics
is again a social thought. It's something
that we all do together. I--I was
at a conference once with a, uh, economist
from Freddie Mac. That's one of the agencies
that failed in the 2008 crisis. I asked him about--
this was before the crisis-- about what kind of planning they had been doing
for a crisis. And he said confidently,
"We have it planned. So, we have figured out
what would happen to us even if home prices
fell dramatically, and we would
survive the storm." And I said, "Well,
how much is dramatically?" He said,
"Well, we've figured out what would be the effect on us
if home prices fell 13%." And I said, "Well, what if
they fall more than 13%?" And then, he said,
"What do you mean? They've never fallen
that much." He said, "Well, not since
The Great Depression." One of the things
that we learn from the study
of history is that people learn
nothing from history, or they tend to repeat
the mistakes of the past, and I think that's because
of human nature. ( music playing ) We're here forever
blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles
in the air They fly so high Nearly reach the sky They're like my dreams
they fade and die ( groaning ) Fortune's always hiding We've looked everywhere We're forever
blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles
in the air We're dreaming dreams We're scheming schemes We're building
castles high They're born anew Their days are few Just like
a sweet butterfly ( sighs ) And as the daylight
is dawning They come again
in the morning We're forever
blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles
in the air They fly so high Nearly reach the sky They're like my dreams
they fade and die Fortune's
always hiding We've looked
everywhere We're forever
blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles
in the air We're forever
blowing bubbles Two, three, four Pretty bubbles
in the air They fly so high Nearly reach
the sky Then like
my dreams They fade
and die Fortune's
always hiding - We've looked everywhere
-( groaning ) We're forever
blowing bubbles Pretty bubbles
in the air Pretty bubbles
in the air Yeah ( music playing ) Financial instability
hypothesis Boom boom boom boom I need the crystal
drop and poppin' I got diamonds
rockin' rockin' A boom-bust boom-bust
keep bumpin' Minsky wasn't no chump,
said somethin' Greedy motherfuckers
need to hear Shit's going on here
all year Blowin' bubbles,
makin' ninja loans Maybe greed's
just in the bones Blowin' bubbles
makin' ninja loans Maybe greed
is just in the bones Boom bust boom bust Leaving brothers ghost town Negative equity take down Boom bust boom bust Subprime toxic downtown Double dip,
triple-A meltdown Pile of tulip maniacs,
free market brainiacs Wall Street apes buyin'
two-for-one grape sale Never learnin'
just turnin' Stamping papers
on the bridge then burn it - Gimme, gimme that
- Money, money - Need to get that
- Money money - I wanna get that
- Money money - Gimme, gimme that
- Money money Blowing bubbles
makin' ninja loans Maybe greed
is just in the bones Blowing bubbles
makin' ninja loans Maybe greed
is just in the bones Hyman Minksy never lied John Cusack never lied Mr. Krugman never lied Ted Crocker never lied Terry Jones never lied Bill and Ben never lied Justin Weyers never lied Chris and John never lied ...never lied Andre never lied ...never lied Triple-A meltdown Financial instability
hypothesis boom Financial instability
hypothesis boom Financial instability
hypothesis boom Financial instability
hypothesis boom