A decade after the 2008 financial crisis brought the global financial system to the edge of collapse, Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Timothy Geithner, Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel, Josh Bolten, Jamie Dimon and others speak as they never have before about the frantic, bipartisan effort to keep America out of another great depression.
Debuting MONDAY, DEC. 10 (10:00–11:30 p.m. ET/PT), VICE SPECIAL REPORT: THE PANIC ARTISTS offers a first-of-its-kind account of the crisis. With exclusive interviews and testimony from the major players in politics and economics, the special provides the definitive look inside the most successful — and most loathed — taxpayer-funded bailout in history. John Maggio (“The Newspaperman”) directs.
The show will also be available on HBO NOW, HBO GO, HBO On Demand and partners’ streaming platforms.
VICE SPECIAL REPORT: THE PANIC ARTISTS revolves around the unlikely relationship that Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke and Timothy Geithner developed over the course of the crisis, and includes candid insights from them and other central figures, such as presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, members of Congress, including Nancy Pelosi, Rahm Emanuel and Judd Gregg, and business heavyweights Jamie Dimon and Warren Buffett.
Bernanke was a scholar of the Great Depression, while Paulson, the former head of Goldman Sachs, was the ultimate Wall Street insider, and Geithner was a career civil servant with experience fighting financial crises around the world. Their unrivaled skills and mutual trust allowed them to devise on-the-fly strategies to stop a run on the global financial system — but they had to convince President Bush and a reluctant Congress to give them the money and authority to act. “I was unhappy about it,” says Bush. “I was a free marketer…But Hank is a persuasive guy. And I trusted him.”
THE PANIC ARTISTS reveals: the military-style takedown of politically powerful mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the backroom negotiations that led to hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money being given to the financial institutions that sparked the crisis; the disastrous decision not to bail out Lehman Brothers, which Rahm Emanuel called “one of the most colossal mistakes ever”; and the high-stakes drama of the 2008 presidential campaign, when the remarks of either Barack Obama or John McCain could have sent the stock market into an immediate tailspin.
The hundreds of billions loaned to Wall Street were repaid with interest and the economy recovered relatively quickly. But as successful as the trio may have been in preventing global economic disaster, they ultimately failed in the court of public opinion. Many wonder if the financial crisis and the efforts to lessen it ignited the populist wave across the country and the world that still resonates powerfully today.
VICE SPECIAL REPORT: THE PANIC ARTISTS is executive produced by Shane Smith, Josh Tyrangiel; directed by John Maggio.
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