The closing minutes of “There Will Be Blood” handily dramatizes naked short selling and, more generally, Wall Street’s relationship to the United States (WARNING: movie spoiler).
Oilman Daniel Plainview (Daniel Day-Lewis) discovers oil near Bakersfield, California, and buys up property in the area for drilling. He covets in particular the vast oil reserves under the land of William Bandy. Bandy refuses to sell on the advice of his preacher, Paul Sunday. Plainview goes on to build a fortune pumping oil from the tracts he has purchased.
Years later, a down-on-his-luck Preacher Sunday approaches Daniel Plainview and offers to help him purchase “the Bandy tract” to Plainview (in return for a kick-back, naturally). Here is Plainview’s response:
The movie ends on this cheery note:
These clips provide fine metaphor for the issue which Deep Capture seeks to expose: naked short selling. Wall Street has figured out how to drink America’s milkshake. The “straw” used is the act of taking investors’ savings in return for stock that Wall Street never actually had, never really borrowed, and consequently, never delivered. But they took the cash. This “straw” is composed of loopholes and rationalizations: loopholes that let them drain the capital of Americans, and rationalizations that let them do it with a straight face on the grounds that _______ (insert meaningless rationalization here: “They’re rich and thus good for it”; “All liquidity is good, even liquidity based on fraud”; “People who complain about paying for things they never receive are whining”; “The folks doing this are smarter than everyone else and have $45 million apartments” etc.)
The US is the supine Preacher Sunday, bleeding to death with a crushed skull. And Wall Street is, most definitely, finished with us.