(News Bulletin 247) – While the markets rocked this week, fearing a new banking crisis, News Bulletin 247 selected a few films on the theme of the financial markets and, often, their crises.

The markets experienced a panic which brought back very bad memories. The bankruptcy of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and fears over Credit Suisse have caused fears of contagion to the whole system, leaving a scent of the great crisis of 2008 with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers.

These financial crises have inspired several films that are sometimes excellent, sometimes much less good (such as Crash by Fabrice Génestal in 2010 or Wall Street 2, the same year). News Bulletin 247 has compiled a small, non-exhaustive selection of these films on the subject of the financial markets.

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Margin Call (2011)

If you had to keep only one film in our selection, it would be this one. Several members of our editorial staff list it among their favorite feature films.

This film with an imposing cast (Demi Moore, Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Paul Bettany or even Simon Baker, the “mentalist” of TF1) is freely inspired by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. Alerted by his former boss, who has just been fired, a young banker in charge of risks discovers that his bank has accumulated gigantic potential losses from mortgage derivatives.

This discovery will give rise to a crisis meeting, chaired by the general manager of the bank. The latter is called John Tuld, a hybrid name, between Richard Fuld, the fallen boss of Lehman Borthers, and John Thain, that of Merrill Lynch, explained the Wall Street Journal.

The film enjoyed some critical success. “Finally a film about finance, far from the clichés and the Manichaeism to which we ended up getting used to after more than three years of financial crisis!”, underlined The world.

Note that director JC Chandor also wrote the screenplay. At Figaroin 2012, he explained that he had written it in four days, his father having been an investment banker at Merrill Lynch.

The Big Shorts (2015)

This film tells the story of several market intermediaries who very early perceived the signs of a shake-up in the real estate market and the various complex credit derivatives backed by real estate loans (“Collateralized Debt Obligation”, CDO, and “Mortgage Backed Securities “, MBS). They thus understand that the market is heading towards a crisis, which will lead to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, even if they do not suspect the extent of it.

They will bet on the decline of the real estate market to the great amazement of their counterparties, their managers, and even their clients.

The film is based on the 2010 book The Big Short: Inside The Doomsday by Michael Lewis who tells the story of these investors. Christian Bale thus embodies Michael Burry, an investor who really existed and who, basically, has a degree in… medicine. Finance was initially a hobby for him. The other characters are inspired by financiers who also really existed.

The cast of this film brings together big stars such as Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling or even Karen Gillian and Marisa Tomei (Aunt May in the latest Spider Man films). But the most striking performance is probably that of Steve Carell as an angry fund manager traumatized by the death of his brother.

Rogue Trader (1999)

This feature film focuses on the first great “rogue trader” (“crazy trader”) namely Nick Leeson, employee of Barings, a British bank.

Sent to Singapore in 1992, he speculated on the futures contracts of the Singaporean index, the SIMEX. The trader takes unauthorized positions, conceals his losses, and causes his bank to lose 880 million pounds, which goes bankrupt, in 1995. The trader is then only 28 years old.

This is the story that the film tells Rogue Trader , starring Erwan McGregor, best known for playing Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars saga. It is based on the autobiography of Nick Leeson, published in 1996. The latter, released from prison in 1999, became sales manager then general manager of the Irish football club Galway United.

The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

A Martin Scorsese film is hardly bad. He was also nominated for the 2014 Oscars for best film, best director or best actor. Leonardo DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort (the “wolf” in question) who will know greatness and decadence, with scenes of frenzied drug consumption or even dwarf throwing.

This investor will build his fortune on “penny stocks”, these values ​​which quote under 1 dollar, by defrauding small savers, via his brokerage company Stratton Oakmont. Basically, he was recommending small values ​​to them based on false information. As his own company was investing in it, he then had to wait for the bubble to inflate via the purchases of these small shareholders to generate profits.

Jordan Belfort did indeed exist and also told his story in a book The Wolf of Wall Street on which the film in question is based. Arrested in 1999 for money laundering and market fraud and will spend 22 months in prison. According to Bloomberg, his scams are worth more than $200 million.

For the record, the film holds the record for the number of times the word “fuck” is pronounced, with more than 500 occurrences.

Wall Street (1987)

This film by Oliver Stone narrates the adventures of a market operator, Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen, aspiring to become a big name in finance.

He meets a Wall Street star, Gordon Gekko, played by Michael Douglas. The latter is a “corporate raider”, that is to say that he invests in companies to restructure them in pain and then resell them.

As time goes on, the finance magnate asks the young man to obtain confidential information from him, to beat the market by committing insider trading. If the film is not based on a particular event, it was released in American cinemas only two months after the crash of October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones fell by 22.5% in a single session.

He hasn’t necessarily aged very well, but Michael Douglas’ performance remains striking and his character is often taken up in “memes” on Finance.