Music Feature

10 Minutes with the Director of "Inside Job", Charles Ferguson

by James Boney
Two.One.Five Magazine sits down with Charles Ferguson, Director of "Inside Job", the first film to provide a comprehensive analysis of the financial collapse of 2008.

(215)    Allow me to begin by telling you how much I enjoyed “Inside Job.” It was a superbly crafted, compelling piece of work.

(CF)     Thank you very much.

(215)    While watching your film, I couldn’t help but think of Glaucon’s argument to Socrates in Plato’s Republic. And as a political scientist, I’m sure I do not need to remind you what that was…

(CF)     Actually you do…

(215)    Ok, well...  [Ring of Gyges] … So my question is, has today’s world of high finance become a modern day ‘Ring of Gyges’ – in other words, has it created an environment where our natural inclination for self interest can thrive, or is it more about the type of person that gets into investment finance?

(CF)     A little bit of both, but more so the latter. The kind of person attracted to investment banking today is not the same person it was 40 years ago. The current culture and practice has given opportunity for the greediest among us to prosper at the expense of others.

(215)    So for you, the film is not an indictment of the human race, rather a testimony to the morality of a certain kind of person?

(CF)     Yes, I would say that is more so the case.

(215)    Do you suppose that your background in academia, and your years spent as a government consultant, provided you with an advantage making this film – perhaps an insight into the psychology of these communities?

(CF)     Yes, I would say I had an advantage, but not because my experiences have afforded me a particular insight into their psychology. With my background, I have had the opportunity to study the financial environment and learn a great deal about the issues. I also know the individuals involved personally; I could meet with them and learn firsthand what had taken place.

(215)    Moving forward, who do believe are going to be the individuals that right this ship? Who are going to be the heroes of this story?

(CF)     I think some have shown themselves already -- the individuals speaking out and writing about the subject should be applauded. And others have yet to be seen.

(215)    Specifically, I was curious why Elizabeth Warren was not made mention of or featured in the film?

(CF)     Oh yes, I spoke with Elizabeth a great off the record during the filming of the movie. She was a great help but could not appear on camera because, at the time, she was in the process of being reviewed for various government appointments and didn’t feel as though it would be appropriate. But yes, she certainly can be considered a voice of reason – someone to be trusted.

(215)    Lacking any government intervention during the crisis itself, what do you suppose our current economic environment look like?

(CF)     Had the government not stabilized the banks when they did, most agree that we would be in something very similar to the great depression.

(215)    During your research for this film, and time spent interviewing individuals responsible, did you ever gleam a hint of remorse or shame from those whose actions resulted in the collapse?

(CF)     Shockingly, no; I felt very little remorse from those I interviewed. I have had several conversations about this very same thing with other people and they all agree that there seems to be very little, if any, shame on behalf of those responsible. Yes, that is what has shocked me the most.

(215)    Ironically enough, I actually teach ethics in the business school at Temple University

(CF)     [laughs] oh my goodness!

(215)    Don’t worry, I am a philosopher by trade, not a businessman; but I am curious, what message should our future business leaders be taking away from your film? In other words, Dr. Ferguson, what should I tell my students?

(CF)     I would remind your students that ethics, in business, does matter. Understanding what the right thing is, and why it is, is an important part of serving your client’s interests and your own.

(215)    Thank you very much for speaking with me; I look forward to your next project.

(CF)     My pleasure, it was nice speaking with you as well.

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