Top 10 Finance Documentaries

The world of finance and investing can be complex, with lots of different aspects to learn about and understand. Documentaries can be a great way to gain a deeper appreciation of the complexities of the financial world, whether that be the history of money and economics or historic financial events and what we can learn from them.

Here’s a round-up of our top 10 finance documentaries.

1. The Ascent of Money (2008)

The Ascent of Money is a six-part television documentary that was produced for Channel 4 in 2008, based on the book of the same name by former Harvardprofessor Niall Ferguson. It examines the history of finance and money, from its roots to the complex banking and credit systems that exist today.

2. The Commanding Heights (2002)

Also based on a book, by Daniel Yergin and Joseph Stanislaw, The Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy takes a look at how the economies of different nations across the world developed, as well as examining the rise of free markets and globalisation. It’s made up of three separate episodes, totalling a run time of 6 hours altogether.

3. Life and Debt(2001)

Life and Debt is an American documentary film that looks at how International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank structural adjustment policies have impactedthe economic and social situation in Jamaica. It has won awards at several small film festivals and is certainly worth a watch.

4. The Warning(2009)

The Warning aired just a year after the 2008 financial crash and looks back at the events that led up to it, including warning signs that a crash was imminent, as well as things that were going on behind the scenes in the world of American politics.]

5. Freakonomics: The Movie (2010)

Although this documentary is less focussed on finance and more on human behaviour, it’s certainly an interesting watch, exploring incentives-based thinking through different case studies. It’s based on the best-selling book Freakonomics by Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt.

6. 97% Owned (2012)

This documentary seeks to answer fundamental questions about money, such as where it comes from and who creates it. It’s 60 minutes long and features interviews with economists and bankers who seek to understand how central banks and economies work.

7. The City of London – Money and Power (2011)

This BBC documentary explores one on of the world’s largest financial centres: the City of London. It looks at how the City works, including the key institutions it is made up of, such as the Bank of England, the London Stock Exchange and Lloyds of London.

8. Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve (2013)

Across the pond in America, this feature-length documentary examines the role of the US Federal Reserve, looking back across 100 years of history to explore how its actions and policies have shaped the US economy.

9. Broke (2012)

Broke tells the story of the many successful American athletes who have gone broke within just a few years of retirement. By looking at the traps that these athletes have fallen into, it serves as an interesting and useful lesson in managing personal finances.

10. The Last days of Lehman brothers (2009)

Another 2009 film focussing on the recent financial crash, the BBC’s The Last Days of Lehman Brothers retells the events of the weekend preceding Lehman Brothers declaring bankruptcy on Monday 15 September 2008. Although this last one is actually a drama, the film is based on real events and was a collaboration between the BBC’s factual and drama departments.