Hamptons, Palm Springs, CPH:DOX
An exposé of a multibillion-dollar stock market fraud centered around China’s economic boom.
As detailed in Rothstein’s investigative doc, in the wake of the 2008 devastating financial crisis, which should sensibly have led to greater caution about the idea of ever-growing markets, some investors sought to recoup their losses by speculating in China. Using reverse mergers to gain access, since foreigners aren’t allowed to invest directly, registered but defunct American companies were taken over by a Chinese company, becoming shell companies for the Beijing economic miracle and open to US investors to seek profit. The problem: many of the Chinese companies involved have been grossly overvalued, creating a house of cards that will eventually tumble. The film follows the efforts of those who would expose this fraud – and, explicitly noted here, profit off of the reckoning by shorting the companies’ stocks – and those who are only to happy to perpetuate the falsehood so long as they can continue to make money, even if others will lose their shirts in the process. While prone to talking heads and occasional overdramatic flourishes, Rothstein’s film succeeds in clearly and concisely explaining market details that otherwise might be sleep-inducing, and benefits from some memorable subjects.