The Love Of Money

9.00pm, Wednesday 23 September, BBC Two

This tells the story of how close the world came to the brink of a total economic collapse last autumn. For the first time the key players tell how they battled to prevent a new great depression – and looks at what this has cost the world. Even today, few realise how close we all came to a truly catastrophic collapse of the very foundation of the modern world.

The story is told by the people who took the decisions: Gordon Brown, Brazil’s President Lula, finance ministers including the United States’ Tim Geithner, Alistair Darling, Germany’s Peer Steinbruck, France’s Christine Lagarde, and Brian Lenihan from Ireland. Central bankers including Mervyn King and, for the first time, the behind-the-scenes officials tell the ups and downs of a month in which they held the fate of the world in their hands.

How close did the world come to collapse? This is what Downing Street adviser Baroness Shriti Vadera says: “It does make my blood run cold to think of how close the whole global system was to collapse.”

9.00pm, Wednesday 16 September, BBC Two

This features a major interview with Alan Greenspan and puts the current economic crisis in the context of the last two decades of history. We examine the confidence underpinning two glorious decades of boom. It shows how we changed our attitude to risk and consumers borrowed more, banks lent more and – above all – governments stepped back from regulating any of it.

At the heart of it all is Alan Greenspan who, for 20 years, was one of the most powerful people in the world and a committed exponent of free markets. But then, in October 2008, just a few weeks after the catastrophic collapse of Lehman Brothers, the man whose ideas influenced the world admitted he just might have been “partially” wrong.

9.00pm, Wednesday 9 September, BBC Two

This tells the inside story of the dramatic weekend in September 2008 that nearly destroyed the global economy. How and why did Lehman Brothers – an established powerhouse of the investment banking world – go bankrupt? Why did its collapse start the earthquake that sent shockwaves through the financial markets?

With eye-witness accounts from those involved, including Timothy Geithner, Alistair Darling, Barclays President Bob Diamond, former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain and Lehman’s bankruptcy lawyer, we tell the gripping story of how the collapse of a 158-year-old investment bank threatened a catastrophic financial meltdown.

What was it like to be there? Here’s what Harvey Miller, Lehman’s bankruptcy lawyer says: “We really were in almost an adversarial situation.”

In a rare interview granted to the BBC Two documentary series The Love Of Money, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Dr Alan Greenspan, claimed that bankers knew they were under pricing risk but thought they could get out before the financial crisis hit.

Dr Greenspan says: “What happened to the bankers – yes they knew that they were involved in an under pricing of risk and at some point that correction would be made. I fear that too many of them thought they would be able to spot the actual trigger point of the crisis in time to get out.”

Seen by many as a key architect of the global free market economy and the crash of 2008, 83-year-old Dr Greenspan also argues that human nature will lead to a repeat of events similar to those that have unfolded around the world over the last year.

“Crisis will happen again but it will be different. They are all different but they have one fundamental source and that is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that that will continue and they begin to take speculative excesses with the consequences that have dotted the history of the globe, basically since the beginning of the 18th, 19th century or back to the South Sea Bubble…or even before.

“It’s human nature – unless somebody can find a way to change human nature we will have more crises – none of them will look like this because no two crises have anything in common except human nature.”

When asked how he feels about being singled out as the person most responsible for the crisis, Dr Greenspan says: “You know I’m not saying I’m flawless and I’ve made no mistakes… that’s ridiculous.”

He goes on to cite the importance of the rise of China as a world financial powerhouse in bringing about the crash. With its virtually limitless supply of cheap labour it had grown to become a major player in the global free market, resulting in low interest rates and cheap money, and this helped to inflate the Western asset bubble.

“As a result of the shift of the developing world towards an ever-increasing emphasis on competitive markets, there was explosive growth. And the growth was so rapid and the income increases were so rapid that you could not get enough spending to absorb the income.”

Any use of information in this release must credit BBC Two’s The Love Of Money, which starts on Thursday 10 September.

The Love Of Money is the definitive behind the scenes account of the crash of 2008 – what happened, why it happened and how generations to come will be affected by its legacy.

Timed to coincide with the anniversary of the Lehman’s collapse in September, the series chronicles the interlinked events of a crisis that took capitalism to the brink of collapse.

The Love Of Money features an unparalleled range of eye-witness contributions from most of the major players at the centre of the storm including: Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, Mervyn King, Tim Geithner, Alan Greenspan, the Finance Ministers of France, Germany and Iceland, the CEO’s of Merrill Lynch and Barclays, Lehman’s lawyer Rodgin Cohen and its bankruptcy lawyer, Harvey Miller, as well as US Congressional Leaders.

The programmes show how many believed they had found a way of eliminating risk, and therefore ending boom-and-bust economics. They explain how banks dabbled in new and complex investments which they believed offered risk-free rewards, only to discover this was wrong; how the whole system began to unravel as, first, banks and, then, entire countries teetered on the edge of collapse, and how our political and financial masters struggled to regain control and to pull us back from the brink.

The Love Of Money peels away the cultural layers of the housing boom, the easy-money society and the consumer dream that inflated the global economic bubble.

It examines the influence that the world’s media had on events, simultaneously reporting and shaping the story, and it tells the emotional personal dramas that played out in extreme circumstances as well as the incredulity and humour that greeted the events as they unfolded.

And it will explore the role of the politicians and business leaders who helped created the problem by sweeping aside financial regulations designed to protect us – but now claim to have saved the world.

The Love Of Money also examines the story of how the rescue of the financial system has saddled us with a legacy of debt for generations to come and whether this huge investment will be enough to stave off further economic collapse.

The Love of Money is executive produced by Dominic Crossley-Holland and series produced by Michael Tuft. The series is co-produced by BBC Factual and the Open University.

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