The Flaw

LSE Arts public film screening

Date: Monday 6 June 2011 
Time: 6.30-8.30pm
Venue:  Wolfson Theatre, New Academic Building
Panellists: Professor Francesco Caselli, Philip Coggan, David Sington, Professor Robert Wade.

Today, a question haunts America: what exactly caused the world's greatest economy to crash and burn?  And why is it so slow to recover?  In THE FLAW Sundance award-winning documentary filmmaker David Sington sets out to find the answer.

Talking to some of the world's leading economists, such as the housing expert Robert Shiller, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, and economic historian Louis Hyman, as well as Wall Street insiders and victims of the crash such as Ed Andrews, a former economics correspondent of the New York Times who nevertheless found himself facing foreclosure and Andrew Luan, once a bond trader, now a Wall Street tour guide, the film presents a highly original and but compelling account of the forces that almost destroyed the world economy.

Using cartoons, some truly astonishing graphs and a generous dose of black humour, the film shows how the intellectual ascendancy of an idea – that markets are wiser than individuals – led to policies that changed the way the American economy works, creating a vastly profitable financial sector that in turn drove a massive upwards redistribution of US income.  This created the conditions for a housing bubble that still threatens to pauperize whole sections of the American middle class.  A system that had once raised living standards for the whole population had become a game where 1% win, and 90% lose. The film argues that we won't solve our problems until we recognize that a reasonably equitable division of the spoils of capitalism is essential to its smooth functioning.

THE FLAW tells the untold story of the financial credit bubble which caused the financial crash. With testimony from bankers, borrowers, brokers and some of the best economics brains in the world, the film challenges easy assumptions about this being simply a tale of greedy bankers and poor regulation. With the imaginative use of archive, harrowing personal stories and gripping graphics, the film shows how excessive income inequality in society leads to economic instability.

The film is the definitive account of the roots, in the USA of the biggest economic crisis to hit the world since the 1930s – a crisis which is causing suffering to many millions of people.  At a time when economic theory and public policy is being re-examined this film is an important intervention in that debate, with some sobering lessons for the future.

The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with:

Professor Francesco Caselli is the Director of Macroeconics Program in the Centre for Economic Performance and Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics here at LSE.

Philip Coggan is the Buttonwood columnist of The Economist. Previously, he worked for the Financial Times for 20 years, most recently as Investment Editor. In that post, he founded the "Short View" column and wrote the "Long View" and "Last Word" columns. In 2009, he was voted Senior Financial Journalist of the Year in the Wincott awards and best communicator in the business journalist of the year awards. Among his books are The Money Machine, a guide to the city that is still in print after 25 years and The Economist Guide to Hedge Funds.

David Sington, Director of The Flaw, has been making award-winning films for twenty years. He has filmed on every continent on the planet, from the Amazon to the Antarctic. His films have helped to free the innocent, convict the guilty and have changed government policy. He has won numerous awards, including a Grierson Award, two WildScreen Pandas, and Gold and Silver Hugos. His most recent film, In the Shadow of the Moon about the Apollo astronauts, was an Audience Award winner at the Sundance Festival and became one of the best-reviewed cinema releases of 2007, with general releases in the USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Germany and France.

Professor Robert Wade is Professor of Political Economy and Development in the Department of International Development here at LSE.

Suggested hashtag for this event for Twitter users: #lsetheflaw


A podcast of this event is available to download from The Flaw.

Podcasts and videos of many LSE events can be found at the LSE Public Lectures and Events: podcasts and videos channel.

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This event has been certified for CPD purposes by the CPD Certification Service. Self-Assessment Record forms will be made available for delegates wishing to record further learning and knowledge enhancement for Continuing Personal and Professional Development (CPD) purposes. For delegates who wish to obtain a CPD Certificate of Attendance, it is the responsibility of delegates to register their details with a LSE steward at the end of the event and as of 1 September 2014 a certificate will be sent within 28 days of the date of the event attended by the CPD Certification Service.  If a delegate fails to register their details at the event, it will not prove possible to issue a certificate. (For queries relating to CPD Certificates of attendance after a request please phone 0208 840 4383 or email