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Frontline: The Economic Meltdown [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Frontline: Cliffhanger
Examining the failure of America's elected representatives to solve the country's debt and deficit problems. Included: the political and personality clashes that nearly pushed the nation off the "fiscal cliff"; the ideological divide within the GOP; the struggle between House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)., Rovi

Frontline: Breaking the Bank
The collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 triggered fears that a Depression-like economic free fall was fast developing. To head it off, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson helped arrange the Bank of America-Merrill Lynch merger and, a month later, pressured the nation's largest banks to take $125 billion of taxpayers' money. Featuring interviews with Bank of America CEO Kenneth Lewis and former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain, Frontline: Breaking the Bank examines those goings-on through the prism of Bank of American and also explores the consequences of the infusion of public capital into the private sphere. ~ Jeff Gemmill, Rovi

Frontline: The Warning
Pulling together a combination of intense analysis, expert commentary, and a close examination of history, this documentary seeks out the roots of the economic crisis that rocked the world in 2008, tracing it back to a stand-off between the Clinton administration and one woman who saw the urgent need for regulation in order to prevent a meltdown in the world economy. ~ Cammila Collar, Rovi

Frontline: Ten Trillion and Counting
As America's national debt surpasses the trillion dollar mark, the producers at Frontline ponder the financial well being of current and future retirees while reflecting on how we got into this mess, and what the Obama administration plans to do about it. Year after year, America closes the gaps in its national budget by selling T-bills and bonds that are guaranteed by the "full faith and credit of the U.S." But the foreigners who frequently purchase these obligations are beginning to grow wary of this system. Now, like the Bush administration before it, the Obama administration has started borrowing big with plans to slash the yearly budget sometime down the road. Anyone can see that this can't go on forever, but the one thing no one can predict is when - or how - it will all end. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Frontline: Inside the Meltdown
Join Frontline producer Michael Kirk as he ventures behind closed doors in Washington and Wall Street on a mission to discover how the economy went so bad so fast, and learn why emergency measures by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernake and Secretary of Treasury Henry Paulson couldn't manage to prevent the worst economic crisis in a generation. It was 2007 when the housing bubble began to burst and Wall Street started to panic. By spring of the following year, rumors began to swirl that prominent investment bank Bear Stearns was about to go bankrupt due to billions of dollars in bad mortgages. In the world of finance rumors can be the difference between success and failure, and Bear Stearns was only hours away from declaring bankruptcy when former Princeton economics professor Bernake orchestrated a shotgun marriage between the high-profile investment bank and commercial bank JP Morgan. But there was a catch; in order to make this happen, the federal government would pledge $30 billion to account for Bear Stearns' questionable assets tied to festering mortgages. A student of the Great Depression, Bernake knew what was at stake should Wall Street fail to act fast. But this was only the beginning of a bad chain reaction, and when Wall Street's Lehman Brothers, too, began teetering on the brink of collapse, Bernake and Paulson were called upon to bail them out as well. By this time, conservative Republicans in Washington were exerting pressure to invoke moral hazard and let Lehman Brothers fail, prompting CEO Dick Fuld to seek out a buyer for the failing investment bank. But his efforts were all for naught, and Lehman Brothers quickly declared bankruptcy. Over the course of the next 24 hours, the stock market crashed and credit markets across the globe froze, effectively sending the economy into a downward spiral. Would the $700 billion bailout plan subsequently proposed by Paulson and Bernanke -- and ultimately passed by Congress -- be enough to steer the economy clear of disaster, or is the United States headed towards a depression the likes of which haven't been felt since the early 20th century? This question, and many more, are at the heart of Inside the Meltdown, a Frontline special produced to provide the average American a better understanding of the economic crisis, and the problems it may pose for the country's future. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

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