VPRO Backlight

Calm before the cra$h

Ten years ago, we were taken by surprise when Lehman Brothers' merchant bank went bankrupt. The financial crisis that followed was like a chain reaction; a pole dancer with her five mortgages turned out to be connected to the huge gap in the Greek national budget. Is it possible to predict the next crisis? What are the lessons learnt from the last one?

Sometimes, it is important to look back in order to predict what we might be heading for. Ten years ago, we were taken by surprise when Lehman Brothers' merchant bank went bankrupt. A month later, in the Netherlands alone, three banks needed saving: ABN AMRO, ING and SNS Reaal. Costs: roughly 30 billion euros. All tax-payer money. Worldwide, banks, villages, cities, and even countries went bankrupt or were hanging by a thread. Few, if any, bankers were convicted. Crypto currencies like bitcoins thrived on the growing suspicion towards banks and governments. Finally, central banks around the world set up buying programmes in order to create cash out of nothing. A strategy to pump money into the financial system, hoping to keep it afloat. What have we learned from all this?

Over a period of ten years, VPRO Backlight reported on the snowballing financial crisis. It turned out that a journalist, a former banker and an economist had predicted the 2008 credit crunch and are now warning against a new crash. We pay them another visit to find out what they had seen, where many others were blind. If we look hard enough, can we see why we are now on the eve of a new crisis?