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3 films to watch, 5 years after the crisis

September 13, 2013: 7:58 AM ET

Just in time for the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, the next two weeks bring the release of three economic documentaries.


Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich takes on economic bullies in this film about widening income inequality in the United States. It's all there: Declining wages for the middle class? Check. Big money dominating politics? Check. Incentives that benefit Wall Street and do not trickle down to the masses? Check.

This Sundance-awardwinning film alternates between following Reich's Wealth & Poverty class at the University of California, Berkeley and impactful interviews with both struggling middle-class workers and a reluctant one-percenter.

"Rich business guys like me are not job creators, it's actually our customers who are the job creators," says pillow manufacturer and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, who was an early investor in Amazon.

The film opens in theaters, September 27. Check here for the list of showings.


This documentary takes a critical look at the Federal Reserve, and it's hard not to be impressed with the unprecedented access Director Jim Bruce got to 13 Fed officials. Interviews include former Chairman Paul Volcker and current Vice-Chair Janet Yellen (filmed about three years ago when she was president of the San Francisco Fed).

Fed hawks including regional presidents Charles Plosser of Philadelphia, Richard Fisher of Dallas and Jeffrey Lacker of Richmond are also prominently featured.

The film starts with a walk through Fed history, blaming it for nearly every major boom and bust in its 100-years of existence, and ends with a disapproving critique of the most recent Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke. (In contrast, Paul Volcker is applauded as a hero).

The film comes at the issues mainly from a conservative viewpoint but avoids the "End-The-Fed" extreme. Several of the cast members argue that the Fed should abandon its so-called dual mandate, and focus entirely on keeping prices stable.

The film opens in New York and Washington, D.C., on September 13. Click here for a full list of showings.


Bloomberg Businessweeks' first foray into documentary films, Hank, will be released exclusively on Netflix on Sept. 16. The film centers on the reflections of Henry Paulson, who as Treasury Secretary under President George W. Bush, made the pivotal decision to let Lehman Brothers fail, and then persuaded Congress to approve nearly $1 trillion in bailouts of AIG, Fannie & Freddie and Wall Street firms.

Speaking at the Economic Club of New York on Monday, Paulson said he believed many of the actions taken then were "deeply distasteful to me, but today I believe more than ever, they were absolutely necessary."

His biggest regret? "I never was able to convince the American people that what we did wasn't for Wall Street. It was for them."

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Annalyn Censky
Annalyn Kurtz
Writer, CNNMoney

Annalyn Kurtz is a senior writer at CNNMoney, where she covers America's jobs crisis, Federal Reserve policy and other economic news. Before joining the site in 2010, she served as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar in Prague and interned at Fortune Small Business magazine. @annalynkurtz

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