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A lot of what I’ve read coming out of the Toronto International Film Festival confirms the same opinion: Chris Smith’s Collapse is a terrifying, gut-wrenching, oh-god-no! type of film. But it’s neither slasher nor big-budget rendering of Armageddon. Rather, it’s a documentary focusing on cop-turned-reporter Michael Ruppert. What, you may ask, is so scary about that? Turns out Ruppert is something of Cassandra figure who predicted the sub-prime mortgage crisis with crazy accuracy a few years back. He’s got some other pretty frightening predictions too.
For one thing, Ruppert thinks the moment of peak oil (when the rate of oil production enters terminal decline) is basically upon us, and that, as a consequence, life as we know it is perilously close to an end. The future will be survivable, yes, but very, very unpleasant. This is not a new theory, of course, and Ruppert apparently gives signs during the interview of being perhaps a bit tetched. Nevertheless, few have come way from the film unmoved, and many have written about it as if somewhat shell-shocked. “He’s like Noam Chomsky as a gripping pundit of doom,” says Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly. “Even if you want to argue with him (and you will, since he’s predicting very bad things), you can’t dismiss what he’s saying.”
I said in my first post from Toronto that you could feel the anxiety of the economic crisis in any number of the films here. Yet even as I wrote that, I could never have guessed I’d end up seeing a movie that would tap into those anxieties with the power and terror of Collapse. It’s one of the few true buzz films of the festival (by the time I got to it, I’d heard a dozen people talking it up), yet the movie, which is 82 minutes long, consists of nothing more than an on-camera interview with Michael Ruppert, a former Los Angeles police officer who became a rogue investigative reporter and author.
He starts out with a trump card of credibility. In 2006, Ruppert predicted the economic crisis — I mean, he really saw it coming. We’re shown clips of him from that year, and there’s nothing vague or abstract about his statements. He glimpsed the whole house of cards in prophetic detail: the sub-prime mortgage crisis, the inevitable breakdown of a system built, like a gold-leaf castle in the air, on leverage. His astonishingly acute foresight seizes your attention, and so you’d better believe that you’re sitting up and listening as he starts to talk about “peak oil,” the term that’s used to describe the fact that the majority of oil reserves on the planet have, in all likelihood, already been depleted, and that the remaining supply will now perpetually be in decline. (He cites reports that the Saudis have resorted to off-shore drilling — infinitely more costly than on-shore — as evidence that they’ve begun to see the bottom of their wells.)
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Oct.9, 2009 -- For those of you who have listened for so long and for those who may be new. Do whatever you can to get out of dollar denominated assets and do it quickly. It is looking to me like the run on the dollar has begun in earnest. This is the one I have consistently predicted as far back as 2003-2004. I'm not going to write a long argument. Those who have been reading this blog don't need it. All the rest of you can just go back and read the terrific postings made here by Jenna Orkin over the last month. Those of you who have followed me and FTW (fromthewilderness.com) for years will remember our only four previous warnings and you know how right those economic alerts proved to be. That's why I left a record of between two and three million words.
Do it now. We're all reading the same map.
Michael C. Ruppert is an author and advocate for sustainability in advance of global oil depletion. He is no paid economist by any means. So, take what he says with a grain of salt as you need to.
But his only 2 previous economic warnings on his old web site that I know of have been correct. ... One a few weeks before 9/11, and the second before the substantial collapse of the Dow Jones in 2002 which crushed a lot of 401ks.
He doesn't contribute to his blog much anymore, as one of his assistants has picked up the mantle while Ruppert has recovered from serious illness and battled legal issues. But, when he does stop by these days it's usually something interesting. ... I found a new economic warning from him rather sobering. Also, in late 2007 he gave the US economy 24-36 months before systemic collapse.
"Some guys play in all-star games, some guys don't. I don't know who picks all those all-star teams. In all honesty, I don't know who picks the combine, for that matter," Belichick said. "How does (Miami-Ohio offensive lineman Brandon) Brooks not get invited to the combine? How did Vollmer not get invited to the combine? I don't know. We can't really worry about that. We just have to try to evaluate them the best we can."
It's not pleasant stuff, I understand. But... ignore this film at your own peril.
Americans generally like to hear good news. They like to believe that a new President will right old wrongs, that clean energy will replace dirty oil, and that fresh thinking will set the economy straight. American pundits tend to restrain their pessimism and to hope for the best. But is anyone prepared for the worst? Michael Ruppert is a different kind of American. A former Los Angeles police officer turned independent reporter, he predicted the current financial crisis in his self-published newsletter “From the Wilderness” at a time when most Wall Street and Washington analysts were still in denial. Smith has always had a feeling for outsiders in films like “American Movie” and “American Job.” In “Collapse,” Smith stylistically departs from his past films by interviewing Ruppert in a format that recalls the work of Errol Morris and Spalding Gray. Sitting in a room that looks like a bunker, Ruppert recounts his career as a radical thinker and spells out the crises he sees ahead. He draws upon the same news reports and data available to any Internet user, but he applies a unique interpretation. He is especially passionate over the issue of “peak oil,” the concern raised by scientists since the 1970s that the world will eventually run out of fossil fuel. While other experts debate this issue in measured tones, Ruppert doesn’t hold back at sounding an alarm. He portrays a future that resembles apocalyptic science fiction. Listening to his rapid flow of opinions, the viewer is likely to question some of the rhetoric as paranoid or deluded; and to sway back and forth on what to make of the extremism. Smith lets viewers form their own judgments.
Last edited by PressCoverage; 10-24-2009 at 05:36 AM..
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?"
In The Warning, veteran FRONTLINE producer Michael Kirk unearths the hidden history of the nation's worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. At the center of it all he finds Brooksley Born, who speaks for the first time on television about her failed campaign to regulate the secretive, multitrillion-dollar derivatives market whose crash helped trigger the financial collapse in the fall of 2008.
“We like to say that dependability is more important than ability,” Bill Belichickism....