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Nonprime and Subprime News | Subprime Statistics
Stories about non-QM products. Coverage of subprime, Alt-A and
hard money lending. Home-equity loans and home-equity lines of credit.

Subprime Documentary Paints Ugly Picture

American Casino extreme in portrait of subprime lenders

Sept. 1, 2009

By staff

A new movie chronicling subprime mortgage lending paints a sinister portrait of subprime lenders and suggests borrowers were completely innocent. But the film's director seems a bit extreme in his description of the devastation caused by subprime lenders.

The film, entitled American Casino, was directed by Leslie Cockburn and presented by Table Rock Films. Work began on the movie in January 2008, before upheaval in the financial markets climaxed.

"The 'worst case scenario' of January 2008, when we began work on American Casino, turned into reality in the year that followed," Cockburn said in a statement posted on the film's Web site. "We were able to follow our characters through Wall Street's collapse, foreclosure, bankruptcy, homelessness."

The director went on to compare the damage caused by subprime lending to "war zones and post apocalyptic societies -- Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan."

A trailer for the movie shows a stream of what appear to be mostly black victims and a stream of mostly white men talking about millions and billions of dollars. One seemingly trustworthy man suggested a systemic strategy by subprime lenders to exploit minority neighborhoods where prospective borrowers were more vulnerable.

"I don't know who should pay for that," one woman was quoted as saying, "but I certainly don't think homeowners should pay."

The film reportedly includes interviews from former executives of Bear Stearns & Co., Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and other "high-level players." It claims to explain the loss of $12 trillion and the practice of mortgage fraud.

"Finally, as the global financial system crumbles and outraged but impotent lawmakers fume at Wall Street titans, we see the casino's endgame: Riverside, California," according to the Web site, "a foreclosure wasteland given over to colonies of rats and methamphetamine labs, where disease-bearing mosquitoes breed in their millions on the stagnant swimming pools of yesterday's dreams."

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