Unmuddied Waters: Rothstein Exposes How Financial Loopholes Conned The World
The stock market’s vitality affects almost every aspect of everyday life, potentially changing national economies seemingly overnight. After the 2008 housing market crash, investment of China-based firms through American stock exchanges skyrocketed into a multibillion dollar industry, altering the contemporary financial landscape. However, while prominent voices from all sides debate free market ideals against regulatory oversight, business executive and entrepreneur Dan David plainly states, “there are no heroes in this story”. Jed Rothstein (Killing in the Name) documents David and his team exposing the massive international fraud of Chinese companies on American investors totaling more than $50 billion. The China Hustle is a stylish, and deeply unnerving journey, with a treasure trove of evidence and testimony that makes it a required viewing for every citizen looking to invest in the global markets.
Following a chain of significant events from the financial collapse in 2008 to the present day, Rothstein interviews stock brokers, former CEOs, bankers, lawyers, auditors, and journalists to paint an expert portrait of how widespread this fraud truly is, and all those complicit. While interviewees discuss how scammers in China can legally defraud foreign markets, they break down lofty economical concepts (such as reverse mergers, short sales, and SEIC filings) as sizable reserves of video, photographic and audio corroboration is employed. By the end, blue collar investors playing with their life savings and retirement money, who were directly affected by the fraud are also interviewed, highlighting the true human impact beyond numbers and statistics. The unprecedented scale of the scandal is only matched by the research compiled, compelling a harsh spotlight on the question, “what is capitalism?”
Editors Brian Goetz and Keith Reamer craft a taut and exhilarating cut hallmarked by its fluid continuity and intermediate pace, evenly parsing the mountains of information. Matthew Freidell’s graphics and animation direction is quirky and offbeat, supplying substantial visual elaboration to hefty concepts with thoroughly eye-catching designs and kinetic typography. Steve Giammaria’s sound design, mixing interview audio, narration, diegetic sound and foley effects, sneaks under your skin and lingers there far longer than should be expected (which also is due to the excellent work of the numerous sound recordists). Tom Hurwitz’s cinematography covers a wide range of perspectives and always manages to keep each shot composition fresh and intriguing regardless of what is being shown.
With so many fingers in the pie, it’s hard to single out all those responsible for a global economic crisis looming very near the horizon; and in the grand scheme of things, it may not even matter. The current machine of stock market trading and investment banking between China and the United States is so insulated to protect itself, that unjustly imprisoning and defaming those who have done no wrong, other than learning and sharing the truth, is common practice. Rothstein makes it abundantly clear that this ongoing scandal has vastly detrimental effects on a global scale, and ultimately tells us to “stay tuned” and be wary. The China Hustle is inalienable documentary journalism, and is a sturdy springboard from which those of influence should take action before it’s too late.
★★★★ / ☆☆☆☆☆