Right now, you can’t pick up a paper without seeing either an advert or a gushing review for the star-studded Oscar-nominated The Big Short, the film that reveals – in hilarious detail – how the financial meltdown of 2008 happened.
Up for 4 Academy Awards – although none of them for Best Make-Up despite their success in making Brad Pitt look unattractive – the film is laced with sharp wit and even sharper 20-20 hindsight.
Put it on your big-screen bucket list, and sit gobsmacked as they explain CDOs and numerous other ultimately meaningless acronyms concocted by the ‘financial experts’ of 2007 – none of whom saw the train coming. But what is as clear as the space between the ears of many of those supposed wolves of Wall St, is that there was far too much control, money and power in far too few hands.
If you’re a banker working to the same blinkered rule book as almost everybody you live, breathe, eat and drink with – then you are highly unlikely to point out that you’re all living in a house of cards. This collective paralysis of critical thinking can only lead to one thing – an Oscar-nominated film depicting your technicolor stupidity in cineplexes worldwide. If, however, you are part of a virtual investment movement that is open to all and closed to none, then chances are you will be surrounded by the most diverse market dynamic you are ever likely to encounter – the wisdom of crowds.
The wisdom of crowds is a phrase you may not have heard before and the image it conjures is in sharp contrast to a crowd phrase you almost certainly have heard before – ‘mob rules’. But if you scratch only skin deep, you’ll discover that ‘mob rules’ is a phrase coined by the establishment few, who lived in perpetual fear that the power of then many would eventually prevail and deliver a more equitable trading economy through initiatives like crowdfunding.
So they described us as mobs, or the great unwashed or the proletariat – rather than an informed, literate, thinking entity that may just be wise enough and diverse enough to conceive of a financial investment model that doesn’t do its critical thinking in a ‘gentleman’s club’.
Given the devastating impact of decisions made on our behalf by the clueless few in finance over the years, perhaps it’s a no-brainer choice between that and the crowdfunding wisdom of the many.
Alternatively you can choose the short-termism of the model that has lost before and will certainly lose again, but comfort yourself with the knowledge that 9 years from now your investment ‘guru’ may be portrayed by Brad Pitt in a blockbuster explaining his stupidity. There are no special effects capable of making that less unattractive.
The Big Short is showing at films nationwide now.