How to make Margin Call better

I keep thinking about the movie I saw last night, “Margin Call”, and how it could have been so much better. While the movie was very well done, I feel that it could have done a better job at storytelling.

I would consider myself as someone who has an above average understanding of the financial crisis, but even I could not really connect with or comprehend the crisis portrayed in the movie. I think it would be better explained if they used a plot that more closely tied with the reality of our current economic troubles.

Here are my suggestions

  1. The part when the boss, Tuld, asked Peter to explain the problem to him in a way that a child, and a dog could understand, Peter did the exact opposite. He explained it in a very cryptic manner. Here is what he could have said:

    Sir, well, as you know, our company allows people, who do not normally qualify for any loans, to take out very big loans to buy homes. We make it possible for a hair stylist, making 30 thousand a year, to buy a quarter million dollar track home in the suburbs. We encourage the bus driver to buy an investment property (in the background show people shaking hands with their real estate agent). We were able to do this because house prices have been rising year after year. So even when people don’t pay back their loans, we could always sell the house for a profit. We made a lot of money doing this. In fact, a majority of our company’s business is now invested here. However, in the last couple of months, the housing market has been slowing down. And according to this model (points to paper), at the current growth rate, we are losing more than the entire value of our company. And if we are no longer making loans, it would only compound the problem. When less people are able to get loans to buy homes, housing prices will continue to decline. But here is the kicker, we are not the only company exposed to this risk, the entire industry is vulnerable. Eventually, if the projections are correct, we would be bankrupt, and neighborhood homes across the country would be empty. And the sad part is, a lot of the same people who will lose their homes when this hits, have 401K, pension plans, and savings heavily invested in companies like our. So they will not only lose their house, their retirement accounts will also be wiped out.

  2. The Demi Moore character, and the Indian guy was a waste of time. They should replace those characters with something more plausible. A Congressman and the Federal Reserve chairman. Here is how I imagine it going down.

    After the group meeting ended, Tuld goes into his office and privately called Congressman Renhob, and Fed Chairman Eknanreb

    Tuld: (Explains to the two guys what is about to happen)
    Renhob: For fuck sake Tuld, what more do you want us to do? We de-regulated the market to make money, not so you can destroy the economy.
    Eknanreb: What are we supposed to do here, the fed rate is already at historical lows, we have no where else to go.
    Tuld: Listen, get with the President and tell him shit will go south quickly if he doesn’t do something to bailout us out here.
    Renhob: What do you mean, bail you out? You think the taxpayer is going to give you money? Fuck you Tuld, you are getting delusional. My constituents are not going to put up with this.
    Tuld: What fucking constituents? If you don’t get on board with us here, next time elections roll around, you are going to be standing on the corner dancing with a hat begging for campaign donations. What? You think the fucking teacher’s union is going to contribute to your campaign?
    Eknanreb: Tuld, calm down, we understand what you are saying, but what do expect us to? we can’t print money here…
    Tuld: You CAN print money. You are the fucking federal reserve. Get with your buddies, and do something. We re too big to fail. If you allow us to fail, you are looking at the next great depression. Massive unemployment, social unrest, people will be camping out on lawn your and you are going to be out of a job if you let this happen.
    Renhob: Alright Tuld, we get it. Give us some time. We will covenent a meeting tomorrow and see what we can do.
    Tuld: Create a relief program, lend us money from the reserves, let the Arabs buy some of our shares, hell, get the feds to buy some of our assets. Write it off and let it rot on the public books. Give it a good name, tell the taxpayer its for their own good. Tell them they need us. We create the jobs for this economy. Will us, they are nothing.

    When they had the scene where they were standing in the elevator with the janitor, I thought it was hinting at how the decisions made by the investment firm affected blue collar workers. Turns out, it was just a random scene. But I think it would have been a good part of the plot.

  3. Throughout the movie they should showcase various types of jobs that are affected by the financial crisis. In addition to showing the janitor working the night shift, they can show some other professions.