In a special four-hour investigation, FRONTLINE tells the inside story of the origins of the financial meltdown and the battle to save the global economy. The films explore key decisions, missed opportunities, and the unprecedented moves by the government and banking leaders that have affected the fortunes of millions of people.
Hour One begins with the epic story of the rise of modern finance. A revolution in banking begins at a luxury hotel in Boca Raton, FL, where a rowdy team from J.P. Morgan invests a new marketplace for trading risk. Correspondent Martin Smith interviews leading bankers, officials and journalists to explain how financial engineering on Wall Street brought the global economy to its knees-and the reverberations are still begins felt along Main Street.
Then, in Hour Two, FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk investigates how the country’s leaders failed to prevent an oncoming crisis and ended up initiating the largest government bailout in history. Told by participants from Washington and Wall Street, the story includes inside accounts from the campaign of presidential candidate Barack OBama. By the time of his election, Obama is thoroughly up to speed on the disaster, but the question remains–what can he do once he takes office?
Hour Three opens with Barack Obama taking office in the midst of the worst economic crisis in 80 years. To the surprise of many, he adopts a strategy to help the very Wall Street firms that plunged the American economy into chaos. FRONTLINE goes inside the White House to meet the key figures locked in a fierce debate over the administration’s game plan and follows those who said they had no choice but to rescue Wall Street. Did they choose the right course?
In Hour Four, FRONTLINE probes into a Wall Street culture that remains focused on making risky trades. Bankers left an ugly trail of deals extending from small American cities to European capitals. For more than three years, regulators have tried to fix an industry steeped in conflicts of interest, excessive risk taking, and incentives to cheat. New rules and regulations are being written, but can they fend off the next crisis?