Over the years, Hollywood cinema has, on several occasions, focused on the financial markets by creating films about trading, financial crises, and speculation in the markets. If you are saturated with so much trading but want to take advantage to watch something relaxed and themed, these movies can be a good option. Most of these movies I’ve seen in my early days and we’ve made a compilation of the best.
It is important to know that this list that we recommend below, is not with an educational approach, but understand and analyze those aspects that go beyond a sequence of quotes or systems. We hope you enjoy them and that from each of them you can draw a clear lesson.
The Wolf of Wall Street
It is a 2013 film based on real events, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and nominated for five Academy Awards.
DiCaprio plays Jordan Belfort, a New York stockbroker who after obtaining his broker’s license becomes unemployed when in October 1987 stock markets around the world collapsed in an episode known as Black Monday.
He later decides to work for a small company that sells stock of small businesses and manages to earn a lot of money quickly. Parties, Women, alcohol, drugs, and great power soon become part of your day to day. The money continues to pour in and discretion was not one of the best qualities of Jordan and her wolf pack, so this rapid enrichment begins to get the attention of an FBI agent and trouble begins for Belfort.
Fraud, money laundering, and an extravagant life mark Jordan’s life. In short, an entertaining film full of action from start to finish that shows us the dark side of life when we do not control our emotions.
The Big Short
This trading film is an adaptation of the book “The Big Bet” by Michael Lewis, released in late 2015 and considered one of the best finance films. A story based on real events that occurred during the economic crisis of 2008. Nominated for five Oscars, and winner of the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Great Bet tells the story of Michael Burry, the Wall Street guru, who in 2005 predicted that the housing and credit bubble collapse. When Michael Burry and three other investors realize that the government, banks, and the media refuse to recognize the imminent collapse of the economy, they think of doing something unusual: “The Great Bet”, bet more than a billion dollars against the housing market at the bottom, contrary to any logical criteria of that time.
No doubt a film we recommend you watch to understand the bankruptcy of the US real estate sector that caused the global economic crisis of 2008.
Margin Call is a 2011 drama film that shows the dark side of the financial sector. It is based on real facts from the lives of eight workers at a powerful investment bank on the day before the onset of the 2008 economic crisis.
This powerful investment bank (although not mentioned, you will quickly realize which bank it is) is earning trillions of dollars by selling high-risk investment packages to its clients, ignoring the frequent warning signs of instability.
One night, young analyst Peter Sullivan (Zachary Quinto) discovers that risk levels have overcome the barriers of insurance and that the company is on the verge of bankruptcy, so they have little time to save themselves.
Summoned to a meeting in the middle of the night, the company executives realize they have two options: to see the company fall along with the rest of Wall Street or to hurry and be the first to sell their assets before they disappear. Your customers and the market will be ruined, but they can survive. They will face a night of tension in which they will have to make difficult moral and financial decisions before disaster strikes. The price of greed is a super-entertaining movie, though, with a somewhat technical language.
Now we go with a classic of the 80s that still remains valid. This film directed by controversial filmmaker Oliver Stone and starring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen is about how the ambition and power of money motivates some ambitious people to get to the top no matter who they destroy in their way.
Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) is a young and ambitious stockbroker who tries to make his way on Wall Street and become the best. On the other hand, we have the investment tycoon, Gordon Gekko (Michael Douglas), whom Bud admires and will do his best to meet and work with. To achieve this, Bud reveals to Gekko confidential information that would raise the price of shares in the airline where his father works, so Gekko decides to hire him.
Soon Bud will realize that his admired idol is an ambitious and unscrupulous man who only cares about money and who is capable of anything to achieve his goals.
The outcome of this story shows us the consequences you can face if you allow greed to guide your steps to the top.
Inside Job, also known as Dirty Money, is a 2010 documentary film about the economic crisis of 2008. Directed by Charles Ferguson and winner of the Oscar Award for Best Documentary in 2011. Inside Job shows us an analysis of the situations that gave rise to the global economic crisis of 2008, based on interviews with senior government officials, business executives, journalists, and academics.
Ferguson tries to decipher the role that interviewees played in the economic crisis of 2008. The message from Inside Job is more than clear: There is systematic corruption in the financial system of the United States and despite the new financial regulations, this history tends to repeat itself because the system has not changed. Another gem to understand how the economy and markets work.
Rogue Trader, known in Spanish under two different names “El Gran Farol” and “El Estafador”, is a 1999 film that is based on real events from the life of trader Nicholas Leeson, best known Nick Leeson, famous for causing the bankruptcy of Baring Bank, the oldest bank in the United Kingdom-based in London. The film is taken from the book that was written by Leeson Rogue Trader himself.
Rogue Trader tells the story of young trader Nick Leeson, an employee of Baring Bank who after a successful start at the bank’s headquarters in London, is sent to Singapore to work in the futures market. After the first successes that allowed him to get huge bonuses, Leeson’s luck changes very soon when he makes some mistakes that lead him to lose large amounts of money.
To hide his losses Leeson created the error account 88888, but this would be the beginning of the catastrophe that would sink him deeper and deeper into a sea of lies. Leeson would continue to use this account to hide his losing operations and step from hiding a few thousand dollar errors to embezzling exorbitant amounts.
This film is a good example of how we should not manage losses in trading and also teaches us how excessive leverage can wipe out our capital.
Too Big to Fail
Malas Noticias is a 2011 film based on The New York Times journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin’s Best-Seller, Too Big to Fail, that tells how the 2008 economic crisis erupted. Nominated for 3 Golden Globe Awards and 11 Emmy Award nominations.
The film focuses on the performances of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (William Hurt) and Federal Reserve System president Ben Bernanke (Paul Giamatti) to contain the crisis. Mala Noticias analyzes how these powerful characters acted in the face of the outbreak of this economic crisis and how they tried to justify it. This financial drama highlights the differences between the White House and Wall Street from start to finish.
[Bonus Film]: Billions
Unlike the previous series, Billions is an American television series that was released in 2016 and whose plot is based on investment funds.
Billions recounts the life of Bobby Axelrod, a New York fund manager, who despite being very charitable and generous in public, has achieved success thanks to certain illegal and immoral practices such as bribery and insider trading.
These practices soon arouse the interest of agents of the United States government, especially the New York District Attorney, Charles Rhoades, who has a particular interest in ending his career. Highly recommended.