The eponymous error of David Sington’s documentary refers to a rare public admission of “Oops!” by former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in regard to his long-held calculations on the self-correcting power of the financial markets. In this case, however, Greenspan’s mistake played a significant role in the circumstances that encourage the 2008 economic collapse.
Sington details certain aspects of the rise and fall of the housing bubble, with a particular focus on residential mortgage lenders who targeted deep-in-debt consumers and the Wall Street securitization experts who packaged these home loans into complex investment vehicles. However, the film makes very little mention of Greenspan’s specific role in the creation of the catastrophe, and there is almost no mention of disastrous federal shenanigans that added fuel to the fire – including rampant corruption at housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and reckless Clinton-era and Bush-era policies designed to boost affordable housing quotas.
In its place, though, are extensive complaints about “income inequality” – the same 99% versus 1% mantra that resurfaced in the Occupy Wall Street protests. But this actually has little to do with the real causes of the housing bubble crisis, and the focus on “corporate greed” fails to take into consideration the epidemic of consumer-perpetrated mortgage fraud that cost lenders billions of dollars over the past decade.
The film offers clips from vintage educational cartoons on how capitalism works, and this provides amusing distractions. But on the whole, Sington never gets a handle on the genuine causes of the economic catastrophe, and the film raises more questions than it can possibly answer.