Erwin Wagenhofer has crafted a momentous and chilling work of reportage in this documentary that maps and analyzes the contemporary global financial system. Shuttled around the world in private limousines and welcomed to corporate offices atop gleaming towers, we are treated to a litany of explanations by people close to the action, outlining how the financial world works and where it stands. It is unsurprising for many to learn that capitalism is ruthless. More alarming is the degree to which the financial (ad) ventures of an unaccountable and often-invisible few are facilitated by public policies and monies and arcane schemes that drain vast quantities of wealth away from civilizations into private hands. In settings ranging from India to Austria, from Burkina Faso to Washington, D.C., the legacies of decades of relaxed credit, deregulation of markets, and privatization of public facilities are illustrated by concrete examples so bizarre, outsized, and chilling that you’d expect to find them in a science-fiction movie rather than a documentary. The testimonies of economic theorists, proponents of offshore tax havens, and even one “economic hit man” combine to create a portrait of high stakes and shortsightedness, with war, mass migration, and ecological disaster as only a few of the downsides.
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