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inside the meltdown

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What are your reactions to this report? How terrifying is this crisis for you? Do we all in a way bear some responsibility for the economic mess?


The uptick rule, synthetic CDO's, the estimated 500 trillion yet to go boom, a little more history and the republican perspective..... [these] would be appreciated on the next installment.Didn't Rep Ron Paul lay this out for us (to much mocking and derision) during the Presidential debates? Maybe you should talk to Doctor Paul, we know he doesn't quite have the panache you seek, nor tow your party line. A screenshot of Obama's smirk at Dr Paul sounding the alarm during the debates might be instructive to those in the camp of the hopeful one.

van, bc

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

For more reaction to this FRONTLINE report, check out the PBS Ombudsman's mailbag.


Nice work, Frontline and Michael Kirk.It has taken me as long to read through all these letters as it did to watch "Inside the Meltdown" - understandably many are enraged and concerned over the topics raised (and left unraised) by your program. Your website provides an excellent resource to dig into the problem more deeply than your hour-long film allowed. The interview with FDIC Chair, Sheila Bair, is most telling...I urge everyone to dive into these resources to get a better picture of who knew what when.

An interesting angle to investigate as your series unfolds is the role of all those dollars flowing from Wall Street's investment banks over to K Street and into political war chests.

Several of your interviews make mention of the "locomotive" or the "party" that no one had the will or ability to stop. These are the kinds of systemic flaws that the current administration must face and fix.

Michael Lauderdale
Richmond, Virginia


Hear they left Peter Schiff out, even after they promoted the program with his quotes. All they needed was thirty minutes with Schiff, and maybe Lew Rockwell and they would have had the full story.

These Austrian Schoolers understood what was going on long before it hit the fan (back in 2003). As it stands, they put the people on who were blind and largely caused the bubbles, the same people who are going to create the next and bring system down. I'll pass on actually watching the video.

Kent Cowan
Kingsville, Ontario

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

Schiff, a well known investment adviser and economic commentator, was one of many interviewed by producer Michael Kirk for this report. Unfortunately, due to the time constraints of a one-hour program, not all those interviewed could appear in the final film. The writer is referring to clips of Kirk interviewing Schiff that did appear in a video piece we produced about the report, called "The Making Of..." You can view thathere.


One of the most intense views of our current economic status that I've ever witnessed.

I commend the jobs that Paulson has done, regretfully so. Mr. Obama needs to wise up and realize that what he's doing is only going to worsen things. The country doesn't need a socialistic view on things...

MIchael Goss
Belchertown, MA


After watching your program on the financial meltdown I am left wondering how Henry Paulson could have thought Lehman Brothers was not closely intertwined with financial outlets all over the world?

Did he think it was 1950?

Did Alan Greenspan decline to be interviewed?

History may judge the Bush administration more harshly on this debacle than even Iraq.

Larry Ledeboer
Moses Lake, WA


I would have titled the program "Barely Inside the Meltdown."

The central roles of the conspiratorial hedge funds and brokerages, compliant financial media and captured regulators in bringing down these financial institutions through massive naked short selling seems to have somehow escaped Frontline's notice. Care to research a bit further and gain an actual understanding of these events? Visit

Long Beach, CA

FRONTLINE's editors respond:

This program, "Inside the Meltdown," is the first of several FRONTLINE programs covering the economic crisis that will be airing over the coming months. Our next report broadcasts and is online in March. Check this Web site in the next few weeks for details.


Your program shows Congress complaining about the first bailout,now they are having hissy fits about the new stimulus.

What I would really like to know is why don't they all carry screen actors guild cards because the bad soap opera act is getting old! These supposed reps. of the people have been selling us down the river to the lobbies of these same corperations and banks who are now on the same welfare line as the rest of the country;on the backs of the middle class!

From outsoursing to unfair trade agreements to not securing our borders from cheap un-documented labor the american worker is being pushed to the point of extinction all for the greed of a mighty few!

To the Congress of these great United States you have sold the future of many generations to come with nothing but a sub-prime mortgage and the interest rates are now resetting so if any of you do really care about this Great Country than you need to stop business as usual and get started on something much more benificial than just printing more paper (see stimulus)! Remember Rome only lasted 500 yrs the way we are headed we won't be getting that far!!!!!!!!!



I found this program to be very informative. When this whole issue was coming to fruition I didn't understand it one bit... just a lot of rambling on. There was little to no explanation for someone like myself who had very little comprehension of the magnitude of the whole thing and Frontline just clarified everything. Thank you very much!!

Jennifer Lewis
Milford, OH


I'm highly disappointed that Frontline completely glossed over the facts on several points. Although I won't go into all of them, the main one is that the federal reserve is a privately held corporation comprised of a conglomerate of banks (If you don't believe this feel free to look it up pretty much anywhere on the web). What does this mean? Basically, they printed the money, loaned it to themselves at interest, and the US population now gets the wonderful task of paying back the interest. This has been the greatest robbery in US history to date. WAKE UP PEOPLE!!!!

hagbard celine
Noneya , IL


Frontline's in depth coverage of the financial collapse was tremendous. 60 Minutes gave us some insight into how we got here, now we have a look at what was in the minds of regulators and the bankers after the fact. Everyone, including our president would now like to move on and not place blame. The fact is, until the American people see bodies in the East River, there will be no closure on this regardless of how often the guilty ask us to move ahead and not look back.

Al Schafer
Tonka Bay, Minnesota


Interesting report but weak. This story was like describing the injuries observed after the car wreck but makes little mention of how the wreck happened. The story started in 2004/5. Housing was booming and all these phony baloney loan instruments started cropping up. These instruments were pushed by Wall Street, Fannie Mae and Mac. Anyone with a lick of sense could seen it coming. I sold my house in 2005 and just rented and I'm no economist. And having Frank and Dodd on there like they were part of the solution was laughable. Both were warned many times in 2004 that the risky loan schemes were unsustainable in the long run. There's plenty of video out there showing both of these guys scolding the people warning them about how solvent Fannie was. Nice story but needed more work.

Yuba City, CA


Thriller of a report! I hope you can do another giving some of the deregulatory background. Two consequential moves were the "American Dream Help for Homeowners Act" of 2003(?) that unloosed the contagion of subprime mortgages and the SEC decision in 2005 that allowed the Wall St. banks to TRIPLE their leverage. And that is only part of the story.

Roberta Palmer
Portland, OR


This so called meltdown is the grab of the major banks as it was in the 30's. Unfortunately, most Americans and others in the world are to busy trying to live their lives to pay attention, which is all planned by these extreme wealthy elites. I say it is time for the rest of us to bond together and create our own people's cooperative bank, we pay our bills, we balance our books. We are tired of supporting the greed of the few. Your story only shows me that we do not have a free press, or a republic.

Bruce Palm
Olympia, Washington


This program was such a disappointment to me. For one it seemed to have only one supporting theme-- Why the bailouts are needed!We are a well-versed on what "caused" the economic collapse by the media. Why aren't there any dissenting opinions represented?

Why didn't FRONTLINE look at the Federal Reserve and its impact on the markets? Why weren't fiscal conservatives interviewed? Or those for free markets like Ron Paul and others? Why only follow one trail?

I can tell FRONTLINE the trail to follow... Follow the money! Answer this question and you've got the real story.--Who profits the most from the economic crisis/collapse?

Lex C.
san antonio, tx


The first program in the "Inside The Meltdown" series seemed a layout of the middle part of the overall time line of this series of crises. I hope that future installments help ferret out and expose the political, social, and financial failures that helped create it. Then perhaps some varied perspectives on whether or not the "rescue" is likely to succeed.

There are a lot of "common sense" aphorisms flying about in the everyday world concerning this problem, how it happened, who's responsible, and what should be done about it. Poor old Joe Public - though he's probably not smart enough to understand all this, would have absolutely prevented it from happening. He'd have done so simply because he's too honest and honorable and everyday takes full responsiblity for every act and decision of his life.

It is the almost total lack of exactly this sense of individual moral responsibility by greedy and power-hungry bankers, investment firms, corporate biggies and the individuals within them, and most especially the politicians and "leaders" who set us on this path and led our nation (and our world) to this precipice.

So, now that we're here and our "leaders" have discovered that the socialist utopia collapses under the crushing burden of all the "free riders," who do you think is expected to grab the shovels and dig the system out of the bottomless pit of doo-doo? Sure -- Good old Joe Public.

The saddest part of all this is that while Joe's shoveling the muck off the society and economy, all the Big Boys (and Big Girls) of the government and their high-rolling financial sector pals will be standing squarely in the middle of the spotlight, patting each other on the back for how brave, decisive, and heroic they were when they saved us.

Bugs Bunny's got it right again: "What a buncha maroons!'

Frank Lee Doobyus
Braggehnhof, NY


I've been reading many of the responses to your program, and I must say I'm disappointed. Some people just didn't get it. This was a program only about the immediate meltdown, not what came before it. That the basics of the meltdown took an hour to explain should give others some idea of the complexity of the situation. I do, however, hope to see future programs that goes beyond the meltdown itself and shows how we as a nation got to that point, as well as possible solutions to get us out of this crisis.

Kelvin Phillips
Waukegan, IL


posted february 17, 2009

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