“Inside Job” Filmmaker Charles Ferguson Hopes to Help Send Bankers to Jail

“This has cost the American people trillions of dollars,” Ferguson tells Fast Company. If only he were talking about his film and not the deception behind the financial crisis.

Charles Ferguson hopes that his movie, Inside Job, will be for the financial industry what An Inconvenient Truth was to global warming: an impassioned call to hold the people who brought the world to the brink of economic collapse responsible for their actions. And, with luck, send them to jail.

Ferguson is no Michael Moore. He’s not a chronic agitator with a megaphone for a mouth. He’s a mild-mannered academic, with a PhD in poly sci from MIT. But despite his quiet demeanor, he’s mad as hell, and is fearless in calling out bad behavior in the loftiest precincts of power. …

On a positive note, the banks are now paying back TARP.

That’s a tiny part of this. This has cost the American people trillions of dollars. TARP is a red herring. And recent studies of mortgages show that at least a third of the the people who received subprime loans would have qualified for less expensive mortgages, but were steered toward the dangerous ones because they were more profitable. This crisis was done to the American people by the industry.

Do you have any sense that the folks in the financial community feel any ownership of the devastation they’ve wrought?

If you look at their bonuses and their lobbying efforts, I don’t see much change. I think they still hope and expect that if they hold on for a while, it will all blow over.

Speaking of a bonuses: was money the only thing driving these people? How many yachts can you water ski behind?

It’s a game, a contest, and it’s very seductive to play high stakes games. That’s part of it. You get to play on a very big chess board and people like the clothes and the toys. …