Thursday, October 15, 2009
In the devastating aftermath of the economic meltdown, FRONTLINE sifts the ashes for clues about why it happened and examines critical moments when it might have gone much differently.
Explore the tide of deregulation; the drumbeat of warnings. Watch the video timeline beginning in 1987.
Looking back into the 1990s, producer/director Michael Kirk ("Inside the Meltdown," "Breaking the Bank") discovers early warnings of the crash, reveals an intense battle among high-ranking members of the Clinton administration and uncovers a concerted effort not to regulate the emerging, highly complex and lucrative derivatives markets, which would become the ticking time bomb within the American economy.
"We didn't truly know the dangers of the market, because it was a dark market," says Brooksley Born, the head of an obscure federal regulatory agency -- the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CFTC] -- who not only warned of the potential for economic meltdown in the late 1990s, but also tried to convince the country's key economic powerbrokers to take actions that could have helped avert the crisis. "They were totally opposed to it," Born says. "That puzzled me. What was it that was in this market that had to be hidden?"