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The Top 10 Must-Watch Finance and Money Documentaries

Money and finance have a prominent impact on our lives, often shaping our decisions and the world we live in. By understanding the complexities and inner workings of financial systems, we can better navigate our own personal finances and make more informed choices. Documentaries can provide insights in a digestible format, making it easier to grasp the intricacies of finance. In this article, we bring you the top 10 must-watch finance and money documentaries that you cannot miss.

1. Inside Job (2010)

Directed by Charles Ferguson, Inside Job takes a hard look at the financial crisis of 2008, which resulted in a global market collapse. Narrated by Matt Damon, this documentary examines the practices and policies that led to the crisis and the consequences it had on the financial industry and everyday people. The film delves deep into the world of economic experts, bankers, and regulators, shining a light on their roles in creating the financial meltdown. It also explores potential solutions for preventing similar economic catastrophes in the future.

2. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is a documentary directed by Alex Gibney that tells the story of Enron Corporation's collapse. Once a major player in the energy, commodities, and services sectors, Enron fell from grace after revelations of corporate fraud and widespread corruption surfaced. This film delves into the personalities involved in the scandal, including CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Chairman Kenneth Lay. With impressive access to company insiders, the documentary paints a detailed portrait of corporate greed and a lack of oversight that ultimately led to the downfall of the seemingly invincible company.

3. The Big Short (2015)

Directed by Adam McKay, The Big Short is a critically-acclaimed film that follows the events leading up to the United States housing bubble crisis in the mid-2000s. As a docudrama, the film is based on the book "The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine" by Michael Lewis. It features memorable performances from Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, and Brad Pitt. The Big Short showcases how a small group of investors predicted the collapse of the housing market and bet against it for their own financial gain.

4. The Ascent of Money (2008)

The Ascent of Money is a documentary series based on the book by the same name, authored by economist and historian Niall Ferguson. This series, which consists of six episodes, explores the history of money, credit, and banking. From the rise of the Medici banking family to the modern-day financial systems that power our global economy, The Ascent of Money provides a comprehensive look at the evolution of finance over time. This documentary caters to both finance novices and experts alike, making it a fascinating and informative watch.

5. Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve (2013)

Directed by Jim Bruce, this documentary explores the role of the United States' central bank, the Federal Reserve, and its influence over America's economy. Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve scrutinizes the Fed's monetary policy and its effectiveness over the past century. It is a captivating look into the central bank's inner workings, discussing its role in managing inflation, unemployment, and market crashes. The film features interviews with prominent economists, including Paul Volcker and Janet Yellen, giving viewers an expert take on the Federal Reserve's successes and failures.

6. Maxed Out: Hard Times, Easy Credit and the Era of Predatory Lenders (2006)

Maxed Out is a documentary directed by James D. Scurlock that explores the dark world of predatory lending and its effect on individuals in the United States. The film provides harrowing account of people's struggles with  credit card debt, payday loans, and mortgage foreclosures. Maxed Out offers a comprehensive examination of the role banks, credit card companies, and the U.S. government play in promoting a culture of heavy personal debt. This eye-opening documentary sheds light on the hidden dangers of easy credit and encourages viewers to question their own financial habits.

7. Capitalism: A Love Story (2009)

Directed by provocative filmmaker Michael Moore, Capitalism: A Love Story offers a critical examination of the United States' economic system. Moore presents his case against capitalism and the adverse consequences it has on the public, including income inequality, corporate greed, and the 2008 financial crisis. The film questions the morality of a system that prioritizes profit over people’s well-being, making it a compelling watch for anyone interested in understanding the social ramifications of modern-day capitalism.

8. The Queen of Versailles (2012)

In this documentary directed by Lauren Greenfield, The Queen of Versailles follows the life of billionaire couple David and Jackie Siegel, as they experience a sudden change in their financial fortunes due to the 2008 economic crisis. Initially focused on the construction of their opulent 90,000-square-foot home, the film shifts its focus as the Siegels are forced to confront their newfound financial struggles. Providing an intimate look into the lives of the ultra-rich, this documentary illustrates the consequences of excessive spending and the harsh realities of the financial crisis.

9. Chasing Madoff (2010)

Chasing Madoff is a documentary directed by Jeff Prosserman that uncovers the story of the man behind the largest Ponzi scheme in history, Bernie Madoff. The film is based on the book "No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller" by Harry Markopolos, the whistleblower who spent 10 years trying to expose Madoff's massive fraud. Chasing Madoff offers a gripping account of Markopolos's determination to uncover the truth and Madoff's deception, ultimately revealing the failures within the financial industry's regulatory system.

10. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, this critically acclaimed film is based on Belfort's memoir of the same name. Although technically a drama rather than a documentary, The Wolf of Wall Street is a must-watch for those interested in finance and the wild world of Wall Street. The movie chronicles Belfort's rise and fall in the financial world, showcasing his indulgent lifestyle and questionable business practices. It explores themes of greed, ambition, and the darker side of the financial sector.

In conclusion, these 10 finance and money documentaries provide insightful and entertaining explorations into various aspects of the financial industry. By documenting the world's financial systems, successes, and failures, these films offer valuable lessons for anyone interested in better understanding the complexities of finance and our economic landscape.

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