BY RACHEL KIM '21
Students filled the Mead common room on Friday night for the Mount Holyoke Economics Society’s screening of “The Big Short.” The event was a small gathering complete with dimmed lighting and PopSecret for everyone.
Based on Michael Lewis’s 2010 book, “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine,” “The Big Short” centers around America’s housing bubble that surfaced during the financial crisis of 2007-2008 — with a focus on the individuals who were able to profit, through bets involving bonds and credit default swaps, from the unrealized volatility of the housing market. With a star-studded cast—Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Steve Carell, Marisa Tomei—and five Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture, “The Big Short” is a noteworthy film.
“It was really interesting to see the housing crisis from different POVs, and how these storylines converged once the market crashed,” said Emily Zhong ’21, who plans to double major in economics and either sociology or statistics.
The screening was meant to generate student interest in the organization. Sania Sharif ’19, president of the Economics Society, plans to organize more social gatherings in the future to broaden the outreach of the society.
“Overall, we want to establish a platform for discussion about relevant economic issues,” said Sharif, who admitted it was her first time watching the film. “Next semester, we’re hoping to host events where we invite professors from our own economics department and other institutions, as well as bring in job representatives who can speak about their research.”
Irisa Lee ’18, the Economics Society’s vice president, is also excited about the Society’s expansion. Lee, who watched “The Big Short” prior to the screening, said “[The film would be] interesting to a person who didn’t know too much about what happened right before the housing market crashed… [it] simplifies, or at least explains, the crash in terms I remember from my own economics classes. In that way, it has a lot of real-life relevance we can incorporate into our economics studies. It’s also just a fun movie to watch.”
When asked for her favorite moment of the film, Lee said, “It’s kind of a nerdy thing, but there’s this one scene at a board meeting where someone describes the market collapse using Jenga. It really showed how unstable everything really is.”