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  • Writer's pictureMarc Primo

Documentaries That Can Teach You About Money

Updated: Apr 3, 2020

The following is an article “Documentaries That Can Teach You About Money” by Marc Primo.

Documentaries about various topics have been produced over the years to educate and entertain viewers regarding the times’ most pressing matters. Filmmakers have also made a lot of financial documentaries that enlighten us on the dangers of credit cards (2006’s Maxed Out On Credit) or the plight of small companies in the midst of a mortgage crisis (2016’s Abacus: Small Enough To Jail). Aside from made for Hollywood films based on true to life events, professionals of the financial industry have also taken to documentaries to know what’s really happening behind the scenes.

Whether you are looking to discover some money secrets, increase your business skills, or avoid financial pitfalls, documentaries are good sources of learning because they tell us compelling stories. Watch these five essential financial documentaries that will give you some great ideas on how to approach business.

Inside Job (2010). This documentary is an eye-opener that focuses its lens on the global financial meltdown of 2008. Millions of people lost their homes and jobs as the cost of the crisis rose to over $20 trillion. The film is both informative and shocking with engaging discussions on questionable U.S. policies about housing practices that caused a six-year inflation in an economy that was designed to collapse. Examining one of the most sensationalized financial crises in modern times, we not only learn how to avoid such an incident from ever occurring again, but also how to detect the problems associated with it.

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005). Following the fall of the Enron Company in 2001, this Independent Spirit Awardee for Best Documentary Feature chronicles the life of Enron founder Kenneth Lay and how the company subjected itself to a scandal which led to multiple criminal trials and its involvement in the California electricity crisis. More like a crime story than a political expose, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room will show you that there is indeed evil in the world of money, as evident in such con games, Ponzi schemes, and corruption.

Capitalism: A Love Story (2009). Known to many for his work in Fahrenheit 9/11, controversial documentarian Michael Moore is back to his old confrontational self in this one, as he challenges corporations and their role in pursuing unfair profits at the expense of lowly consumers. The film postulates the role of capitalism in causing the global financial crisis in an eloquent and entertaining manner. Somehow, you’ll be haunted by how this documentary reminds us that we all have rights to homes, jobs, education, and health care as dictated by the Second Bill of Rights, even though that’s not really the case today.

Trader (1987). The film gives as a clear perspective into the life of trader and hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones who was able to predict 1987’s Black Monday, and tripling his money as the global stock market crashed. Combining superstition and eclectic investment philosophies, you’ll soon discover that aside from skills and analytics, luck and courage also have something to do with success. The film also documents Jones’s philanthropic initiatives by helping New Your city kids go to school. Watching Trader will definitely make you think twice about how you’d want to use your wits and money.

Life and Debt. Another film about the dangers of debt, this hard-to-watch documentary will tell you how the policies of international aid organizations can transformed the economies of smaller countries like Jamaica from bad to worse. The documentary shows us how the International Monetary Fund’s policies soon dictated reforms in Jamaica that led to a shocking $4.6 billion debt. You will learn that helping out can sometimes lead to dire consequences, and that you should always know what you’re really getting yourself into when money is involved.


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