Monday, February 28, 2011

Ponzi Schemes, TARP, & 'The Other Guys' Movie (Video)

This weekend I finally got around to watching Adam McKay's latest film 'The Other Guys' featuring Will Ferrell and Mark Whalberg. Little did I know that comedy held a mini-seminar on the financial chicanery that's fattened Wall Streeters' and CEOs' bonus checks in recent years while impoverishing the American taxpayer.
The movie may be a silly farce about New York cops who stumble upon a Bernie Madoff-like Ponzi scheme that threatens to defraud billions from city workers. But buried in the comedy is a serious point about what really constitutes grand theft these days. In essence, Adam McKay used the film's end credits to a point to lambaste corporate business, bonus packages and the TARP ponzi scheme.

The closing PowerPoint-like presentation is full of fun infographics and serious statistics outlining just how much Wall Street and corporate leaders have enriched themselves at the expense of American taxpayers. Check it out:

As pointed out by moviefone blog, it's a fascinating sequence, both from a design perspective and from the unlikely prospect of seeing a major corporation (in this case, Sony) release a mass-entertainment movie that also wants to educate moviegoers about the legalized wealth-grab that's benefiting major corporations -- and seems to essentially equate the T.A.R.P. Bailout with little more than a massive ponzi scheme.

The figures cited in the sequence, for example, note the following:

- that the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) bailout cost every person in America enough to take a trip around the world

- that after the bailout, some $1.2 billion in taxpayer money went to pay the bonuses of just 73 AIG execs, while Goldman Sachs got a huge tax break that saw its tax rate drop from 34 percent to 1 percent

- that the average CEO earned about eight times the salary of his average employee a century ago, but earns more than 300 times his average employee's wages now

- that the typical American 401(k) retirement account has lost nearly half its value over the last five years

- that New York cops may earn a maximum pension of about $48,000, while the average retiring CEO reaps benefits of about $83.6 million.

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