Breaking the Bank

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Date Submitted: 01/29/2013 03:18 PM

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This documentary from PBS Frontline, “Breaking the Bank,” took a different spin on the issue of the financial collapse. Unlike previous segments of frontline we have seen in class that vilified financial institutions’ CEOs, Breaking the Bank seemed to take the opposite approach. At the end of the documentary I almost felt a little bit of empathy for Ken Lewis and John Thain. Instead of blaming these leaders of failing banks, Frontline seemed to place the blame squarely on the government, even insinuating that the government bailout of the nation’s largest banks was a mistake.

Ken Lewis and John Thain were portrayed as mere puppets being controlled by a government that really did not understand what they were doing. While I do agree that the government is largely at fault for allowing this condition to develop through previous legislation and deregulation, I also feel that the bailouts were an absolute necessity given the situation. This segment of Frontline failed to comment about how each bank was intricately intertwined with many businesses throughout the world and how each failure would have had devastating effects throughout the world’s economy.

While there may be some truth that Lewis and Thain were backed into a corner, they also ran companies that had been running unethical practices for many years. If they truly were unaware of the situation, they were not good CEOs and should have been fired long ago. Thain clearly was aware of the issues that were present and yet he was still an advocate for bonuses right to the end. On the other hand, I do believe that Lewis was trying to do the right thing for Bank of America and the United States as well. However, I cannot say he was without blame. This whole problem was created by greed. This greed is not limited to just the Wall Street elite, but also the great majority of our politicians. Unfortunately, in the U.S., money has become the only thing that matters.

Overall, I thought “Breaking the...