Plunder: The Crime of Our Time (DVD Review)31 Mar, 2010 By: Erik Gruenwedel
With mind-numbing phraseology such as “collateralized debt obligation,” and “credit default swaps,” it’s little wonder so many homeowners remain incredulous as to why their properties are upside down in value and facing foreclosure — linchpins to the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.
The new documentary Plunder showcases the dark side of greed in the housing market and how the effects of bilateral government deregulation of the banking industry helped bring about what one pundit characterized as the “greatest nonviolent crime against humanity in history.”
Filmmaker Danny Schechter unravels the sordid schemes and regulations that allowed banks and hedge fund managers to create and fuel a high-stakes game of monopoly using “mortgage-backed securities.”
Schechter showcases in layman terms how the media frenzy toward the arrest of Ponzi king Bernie Madoff diverted attention away from the actions of the nation’s largest financial institutions, many of which were engaging in predatory lending practices that duped millions of unsuspecting and unqualified people — via sub-prime mortgages — into owning a piece of the American dream they could not afford.
The unscrupulous nadir reached with the so-called “NINJA” loan that required no income, job or assets to qualify.
Fueled by a white-hot housing market — unprecedented in history — mortgages were grouped and resold as commodities to investors at multiples up to 30 times their value. Institutions such as the American International Group (AIG) then sold insurance on these investments as commodities.
When the housing bubble burst, economic Armageddon followed.
In all, Plunder is a gritty thriller that’s unfortunately ripped from today’s headlines.