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Paint It Black

The Big Short
Produced by Plan B Entertainment 
and Regency Enterprises 
Directed by Adam McKay 
Screenplay by Charles Randolph 
and Adam McKay 
Distributed by Paramount Pictures 

In the 90’s of the last century, I used to supplement my academic income by coaching investment bankers and corporate CEOs.  My job was to help them prepare presentations designed to persuade the well-heeled to bet large sums of money on their enterprises.

The investment bankers tended to be in their 20’s and early 30’s.  They routinely worked 60 to 80 hours per week inveigling privately held companies to sell shares in their firms to the public.  As a consequence of their preposterous hours, these young men and occasionally women were often mentally frazzled and physically exhausted.  Despite this, they were entrusted to make decisions involving millions, even billions, of dollars.

How curious, I thought.  Why would allegedly circumspect financial institutions risk their reputations on the judgments of sleep-deprived youngsters?  What I didn’t understand at first was that going public during a economic upswing was a sweet deal for the insider crowd, both the bankers and the company principals.  By SEC rules the insiders are allowed to buy the corporate shares resulting from an initial...

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