10 Movies All Economists Will Love

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10 Movies All Economists Will Love

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By , reviewed by Sean McClung

Economics isn't something that can only be learned from degree programs, books or journals. As an important part of modern life, there are also a number of great movies about economic themes. From the 2008 financial crisis to the formation of game theory, movies have documented a variety of subjects that will be of interest to economists. Next time you're sitting down for movie night, try one of these 10 films that economists will love.

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1. Moneyball

The film that got the whole world interested in statistics, Moneyball is based on a true story about the manager of the Oakland A's baseball team who used statistics to analyze and understand players' strengths and weakness. With these insights, he rebuilt the team by recruiting undervalued players and focusing on strategy rather than fielding superstar players. Because of this, the A’s rose from the bottom of the league to become a top team.

Economists will enjoy seeing statistics being put to real-world use and the fact that the numbers guys are the real heroes of the movie. For more on statistics in sport, check out our article dedicated to the topic!

2. The Wolf of Wall Street

Another movie based on a true story, this one chronicles the rise and fall of Jordan Belfort, a stockbroker in the 80s who made millions through fraud and corruption in the stock market. Showing the wildest decadence of the Wall Street boom years, this movie was a hit with the public for its moral ambiguity and an all-star cast headed by Leonardo DiCaprio.

 

3. Wall Street

An earlier economics film with a similar theme to The Wolf of Wall Street, this 80s drama stars Charlie Sheen as a stockbroker who gets involved with a corporate raider's nefarious plans. Showing life as an 80s trader at its most gauche and excessive, the film delves into issues of morality, wealth, and power in the monied world of top corporations.

4. Arbitrage

Arbitrage is a thriller drama starring Richard Gere as a hedge fund manager who has been engaged in shady accounting practices in secret. He tries to hide his losses and avoid being arrested for fraud. After a car accident nearly exposes his secrets, he must decide how to evade the police in order to protect his secret. 

5. The Informant!

For a light-hearted comedy crime film with an economics theme, try the 2009 Matt Damon movie The Informant!. Based on a true story of a whistleblower who reports a price-fixing conspiracy at his workplace to the FBI, the movie follows the life of the whistleblower as he tries to help gather evidence against his company. With a fun, ironic tone, the film looks at the way corporate malpractice occurs and the challenges in stopping it.

6. Too Big To Fail

Too Big To Fail is a documentary based on a book that covers the 2008 financial crisis and how it came about. The film is presented from the point of view of the key players (including 2022 Nobel Prize winner Ben Bernanke) in various financial institutions who work to try to prevent a global economic meltdown.

7. A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind is a fictionalized version of John Nash's life, the mathematician who is the namesake of Nash Equilibrium. Exploring both Nash's mathematical work and the schizophrenia that he suffered from, this film was a popular success as well as being highly rated by historians and those in the field of mathematics.

10 Movies all Economists Will Love8. Margin Call

Another economics movie about the 2008 financial crisis, this fictionalized drama is set over 24 hours at a large Wall Street investment bank as the crisis begins to unfold. A high energy and dramatic movie with a cast of famous names, this one is not to be missed.

9. The Big Short

Another biographical film about the 2008 crisis, this one is worth checking out for the distinctive style in which financial instruments are introduced. Using cameos of well-known celebrities and fourth-wall-breaking chats into the camera, the movie explains concepts such as subprime mortgages and collateralized debt obligations in an accessible way.

10. Inside Job

A top movie in economics about the financial system, this movie focuses on the US in particular and the way that the financial services industry has grown in power and has fostered corruption over the last few decades. Split into five parts, it briefly tackles the history of the finance industry before moving on to the early 2000s bubble, the crisis, and the state of affairs as of 2010.

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