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Film / The Big Short

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"Do you realize what you've done? You've bet against the American economy!"

The Big Short is a 2015 comedy-drama film based on Michael Lewis' 2010 nonfiction book of the same title, directed by Adam McKay and featuring an All-Star Cast including Steve Carell, Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt, Marisa Tomei, Karen Gillan and Melissa Leo. Set in the mid-2000s, it follows several people in the financial industry as they begin to realize that the housing market is unstable, and that they can make big bucks by betting against it.

The film was critically acclaimed on release, and earned five Academy Award nominations: Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Bale), Adapted Screenplay (which it won) and Film Editing.


  • Adaptation Name Change: Many of the names of the real-life figures involved were changed in the movie, including Baum, Vennett, Shipley, Geller and Rickert. Of the central characters, Michael Burry and Baum's employees all kept their real names. Their real names are in the original book, and their roles and behavioral traits weren't changed for the movie, so it's very easy to associate the person with the character.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Played for Drama. At the end of the movie, it's revealed that nobody responsible for the crisis went to jail and the big banks have gone right back to selling CDOs.
  • AM/FM Characterization: Michael Burry listens to heavy metal music at a very loud volume while working.
  • Anti-Hero: The closest the story gets to anyone the audience can root for are Baum and Rickert, two jaded financial experts who both realize what's about to happen and are horrified about it. And even they aren't the good guys because they're using the looming crisis to make profits (and they know it). Averted by Vennett, who openly admits he's not the hero of the story.
  • Artistic License – History: The film is kind enough to acknowledge when the events portrayed deviate from what really happened.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Vennett invokes this trope in a very crass fashion with his numbers guy.
    Vennett: His name is Yang! He doesn't even speak English!
    "Yang": [to the audience] Actually, my name is Jiang, and I do speak English.
  • At Least I Admit It: Vennett is a smarmy douche, and never once pretends to be anything else. He openly tells his clients that he plans to rip them off in the endgame. He reminds the audience that he is decidedly not the hero of the film.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Burry ambles out of his office, calmly writes on the whiteboard that his fund is now running at -11% and dropping, shuffles back to his desk and shouts a huge one of these.
  • The Atoner: Implied to be Ben Rickert's motivation for helping Shipley and Geller.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Assumed on the part of the audience, so the movie explains most of its concepts via on-screen text and cameos, including Australian actress Margot Robbie sipping champagne in a bubble bath. Justified in-universe:
    Jared Vennett: Mortgage-backed securities, subprime loans, tranches — it’s pretty confusing, right? Does it make you feel bored? Or stupid? Well, it’s supposed to. Wall Street loves to use confusing terms to make you think only they can do what they do. Or even better, for you to just leave them the fuck alone.
  • Awful Truth: Even after investing heavily in the collapse of the economy, Baum doesn't realize until witnessing firsthand, late in the game, just how corrupt, stupid and deeply screwed the entire financial system is.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: A Foregone Conclusion for anyone who remembers the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-2009. Sure, a lot of fat cats lost their money and some firms like Lehman Brothers went under, but the ending of the film leaves no doubt about it - the banking industry got out of the crash entirely regulation-free, shifting the blame to the poor, immigrants, and even teachers. They even start offering CDOs again years later, rebranded as "bespoke tranche opportunities."
  • Beauty Inversion: Most of the cast are played with unflattering haircuts and realistically uneven skin tone. Bale and Carell are especially notable in that regard. Those who aren't, like Gosling, have what appear to be badly dyed black hairnote  and fake tans.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: According to Ben Rickert. Shipley and Geller have to use 14 different phone numbers to call him.note 
    Jamie Shipley: OK, let's try number 2 out of 14.
    Ben Rickert: [answering phone] Ben Rickert.
    Jamie Shipley: Ben, why do you do that, man? I mean, you're a retired trader, OK, no one is listening to your calls.
    Ben Rickert: The NSA has a $52 billion budget and the ability to monitor tens of millions of calls a second. You think they're not using it?
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: While the banks are undeniably the villains of the movie, the protagonists are all making money off of their arrogance and stupidity, and most of them are only doing it for the money.
    Jared Vennett: I never said I was the hero of this story.
    • Ben Rickert calls out his teammates about it when the two start dancing over the deals they made.
      Ben Rickert: Do you realize what you've done? You've bet against the American economy.
    • Explicitly stated by the S&P officer, who points out that the main reason Baum's group wants them to rate the CDOs more accurately (to identify them as junk, instead of AAA-secure) is because they stand to make a huge amount of money when the CDOs collapse.
      Mark Baum: That doesn't make us wrong.
      S&P Officer: No, it just makes you a hypocrite.
    • Casey, the Wall Street reporter that refuses to publish Shipley and Geller's story as the CDOs begin to fail, is certainly helping the ultimate crash become even worse by staying silent, but as he himself points out, he has his own family to look out for and attempting to cover their claims would certainly burn all the bridges he had made in his career with the financial industry, if not end up killing his career.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • Ryan Gosling's Jared Vennett breaks it frequently, sometimes in the middle of a scene. Other characters do as well, although not quite as much.
    • There are a series of celebrity cameos that directly address the audience in a series of self-contained cutaway scenes to help explain some of the complicated financial concepts shown in the film.
    • When Vennett is making his pitch to Baum, he stresses in a racist way that his math expert is the best because he's Chinese and won a Chinese national math competition. In fact, he's so good, he doesn't speak English. "Yang" then turns to the camera and, in English, says his name is actually Jiang, that Vennett thinks stressing not speaking English makes Jiang "more authentic", and that he only placed 2nd in the competition.
    • Honestly this movie is a great study on diegesis, blending in the above-mentioned celebrity cameos with the scene going on, and using asides in the middle of dialogue to explain something or make a quick joke.
  • Brutal Honesty:
    • Vennett is completely up front about how much a greedy scuzbucket he is, which is why Baum actually believes him when Vennett sells his pitch about the subprime mortgage bubble.
      Vinny: How come you don't hate this guy? He's everything you taught us not to trust.
      Baum: I can't hate him. He is so transparent in his self-interest that I kind of respect him.
    • Baum himself is honest about how he views the insanely corrupt banking industry the further he goes into this mess. It leads to his caustic Take That! speech about the financial sector's short-sightedness right at the moment when Bear Stearns collapses.
    • This is also one of Burry's main traits, but more due to his lack of social skills than anything else. It tends to work against him, because people take his honesty for being crazy, if not delusional.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer:
    • Burry, the constantly drumming, monologuing, and shorts-wearing financial investment genius. And he's a doctor by education.
    • Ben as well. A retired investor with connections everywhere. He also happens to be a paranoid survivalist who hates Wall Street.
    • Baum is portrayed as this early on, coming in late and dominating a support group session and verbally abusing everyone around him, but over the course of the film, we begin to realize that his attitude comes from his disdain of the financial system and bottled-up feelings concerning his brother's suicide.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • The four main characters - Burry and Baum in particular - are basically trying to warn everybody that the entire financial system is sitting on a subprime mortgage bomb. No one in a position to do anything about it notices or even cares... until it's too late.
    • Some of the people responsible for the oversight - like the SEC and the ratings agencies - actively fight any attempt to burst the subprime bubble, which only makes the oncoming collapse of banks like Lehman Brothers worse.
  • Central Theme: Outside of the whole "financial systems are capable of really fucking over the layman" thing, the movie discusses the idea of personal incentive versus moral obligation - if the entire market really is as stupid and corrupt as they seem, then the protagonists have no financial incentive to do anything other than bet against it. At the same time, none of them like this situation, and all three groups of protagonists go through either a Heel Realization or an outright Heroic BSoD in dealing with the fallout of what's about to happen. It's a movie about profiting off a bad situation when there's no way to stop it from happening, and the film explores each character's reaction to the eventual market collapse: Baum becomes forlorn with what he's done, Shipley and Geller get totally disillusioned with the banking world, and Michael outright quits finance in disgust.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper:
    • Explicitly stated by Baum at one point.
      Mark Baum: And what bothers me isn’t that fraud is “not nice,” or that fraud is “mean.” It’s that for fifteen thousand years, fraud and short-sighted thinking has never, ever worked. Not once. How the hell did we all forget that?
    • Sadly, this trope gets subverted late in the movie as Baum realises that the banks were counting on a bailout from the government in case something like this happened, essentially being able to get away from the collapse with a slap on the wrist by virtue of being too big to fail.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: There is a LOT of F-word cursing in this movie.
  • Competence Porn: The film is about various people in the finance industry who saw the 2008 financial crisis coming before anyone else did and used this knowledge to become rich while the world entered the worst economic recession in nearly a century. Of course, whether they were right to do this is up for debate.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Subverted. Shipley and Geller find a copy of Vennett's short pitch in the lobby of the JP Morgan Chase building. Then they break the fourth wall to explain this didn't actually happen, they found out about the short pitch in a much more roundabout way, but this made for a better story. Baum, on the other hand, really did learn about Burry's trade from a wrong number.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Shipley and Geller decide to short the AA tranches, betting on the fact that they are just as filled with garbage loans as the B ones but will be cheaper to short because the ratings are being taken at face value. They were right.
  • Creator Cameo: The real Michael Burry can be seen in the background of Scion Capital making a phone call when Lawrence Field storms in to confront the film's Michael Burry.
  • Creepy Souvenir: Maybe not creepy at first glance, but from every bank that Burry visited to bet against their mortgage bonds, he asked for or just pocketed one of the banks' monogrammed coffee mugs. Since Burry was certain he was right, in his mind he was taking a keepsake from every one of the banks that he knew would go under; in effect, a piece of what would soon be their corpses.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Michael Burry earns skepticism, derision, and rebellion from his mentor and his investors for shorting the housing market, but he refuses all attempts to pull out and is eventually proven correct when the bubble bursts.
    Dear Lawrence,
    Your profits totaling $489 million from Scion Capital have been deposited into your account.
    You're welcome.
  • The Cynic: Baum and Vinny's final phone conversation shows two different sides of this; Baum discovering that the banks might have known exactly what they were doing puts him into a Heroic BSoD, and he sounds almost broken-hearted when he tells Vinny "they just didn't care." Vinny responds with "Yeah, 'cos they're fucking crooks," as if it's obvious that they wouldn't, but he then naively states that there'll be loads of people going to jail and more regulation to make sure it doesn't happen again, to which Baum bets that they'll blame immigrants and poor people, and then the system will keep right on going. From this, it seems that Vinny is more cynical about individual people but hopeful about the system's ability to course-correct after an obvious failure, while Baum was the opposite.
  • Desolation Shot: A downplayed example, at the end of the film, once the crash is in full swing, Shipley and Geller get to see the trading floor of the now bankrupt Lehman Brothers, all disorganised and filled with trash.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Baum is already a cynic who dislikes Wall Street in general, and he's grieving for his brother, but it's only in Vegas when he sees how corrupt and how dangerous the banks are that he truly lapses into a Heroic BSoD.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Burry, Baum's team and Shipley and Geller all end up in the backfoot when the value of the sub-prime mortgage bonds and the CDOs don't fall in value immediately when the mortgage default rate start to hit criticality as they predicted but instead rise in prices. This is also the point when they start to realise just how deep in fraud is the entire system, far beyond their original expectations.
  • Dining in the Buff: Margot Robbie explains the intricacies of subprime mortgages while sipping champagne in a bubble bath.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • The S&P officer is wearing very dark glasses from an optometrist appointment, severely restricting her vision, while she explains to Baum that her firm saw nothing wrong with the subprime mortgage bonds. She later admits that they give the bonds high ratings, without even looking at them, in exchange for the bank doing business with them, because if they don't, another ratings agency (like Moody's) will.
    • Immediately after explaining to Jamie how the SEC doesn't really do much to regulate the banks, Evie literally gets into bed with a banker (at least partially motivated by hopes of getting a job when she leaves the SEC).
  • Downer Ending: A Foregone Conclusion, given the real-life economic crisis that followed the housing collapse. The national and worldwide economies collapsed, many homeowners lost their homes, and unemployment rates spiked.
    • Burry alienates almost everyone who he was doing business with, although since he gladly walks away from it all, it qualifies as more of a Bittersweet Ending for him. Baum and his associates profit immensely from the credit default swaps, but Baum is clearly heartbroken by his decision to go through with it. Shipley and Geller make millions but are horrified that no one in the media seems to care about the fraud that has taken place. Lastly, Vennett makes millions in bonuses after the bank profited from the swaps he sold and openly does not care about how the rest of the world was affected by the crash.
    • We even see what happens to some of the minor characters, and it isn't good. One of Burry's employees is shown in his new job, stocking shelves at a convenience store. The two mortgage brokers who Baum meets in Florida are now unemployed, shown trudging through a job fair looking for work. Saddest of all, the man who was renting the Florida house (whose landlord hadn't paid his mortgage) with his wife and young children is shown living out of a van.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • When the bonds don't fail when Burry predicted they would, he ends up theorizing with his assistant that the reason why this could be is that the system is utterly fraudulent while his assistant points out that he could have also been wrong. As it's later revealed in the film, Burry was wrong. Not on his math though, but rather on underestimating the degree of fraud in Wall Street and the lengths the banks would go to squeeze out as much money as possible even if that meant the final crash would end up being worse.
    • After Baum's speech about the catastrophic level of fraud within Wall Street, Miller counters that he's still optimistic about Bear Sterns because no investment bank has ever failed unless caught in criminal activities. When he's told that Bear's stock has kept falling 38% ever since the two began their presentation, he still insists that he would buy more stock, not realising that Bear Sterns has just done exactly that and is now caught in a death spiral. There's another layer of irony here since Miller's assessment was valid not just for Bear Sterns but also for Lehman Brothers and the other banks that crashed when their greed and deception caught up to them.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point:
    • The Downer Ending, specifically Burry's part of it. He offers to explain to the government how he foresaw the crash. They audited him four times instead.
    • In the Q&A between Bruce Miller and Mark Baum, Miller cheerfully says that everything is fine and that he would happily buy shares in Bear Stearns. In the audience, Danny and Porter are monitoring Bear Stearns's share price on Danny's phone. As Miller speaks, and then Baum, Danny starts to get message after message about how the share price is dropping, until it becomes clear that it's going through the floor. At the end of the Q&A, Miller is told that Bear Stearns's share price has plummeted, and is asked if he'd still consider buying shares in it. He insists that he would. At that point, almost everyone in the audience, who had come to hear him be reassuring, looks at him like he's a total idiot, and they all get up and leave as quickly as they can so they can unload their now-worthless shares.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mark Baum's brother, before the events of the film. The details aren't made specific, but it's suggested that it had to do with financial troubles. Mark is understandably haunted by it.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: This is the implicit reaction that Baum and his team have when they interview the mortgage brokers and they keep showing off how much money they are making by ripping off people. Geller and Shipley also have this reaction when they start to dig up information in the American Securitization Forum and the people they interview are more interested on making immediate money than caring about the rising default rate.
  • Enraged by Idiocy: Mark Baum has no tolerance for anything he suspects is bullshit.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Vennett starts his lemony narration, then appears in the flashback scene talking to the camera, assuring the audience that he is very cool.
    • Michael Burry is introduced sitting in his office, waving drumsticks around and giving a lengthy Info Dump about mortgage defaults during The Great Depression. We then find out he's actually conducting a job interview with a very bewildered analyst, to whom he gives the job, demands a list of thousands of mortgages, and then starts rocking out in front of his spreadsheets.
    • Mark Baum angrily storms into his therapy meeting and interrupts the group whilst berating an immoral banker.
    • Wing Chau cheerily explains how he represents his investors despite his work as CDO manager being mostly for Merryl-Lynch and when Baum asks him whether he's worried about the growing default rate, he smugly declares how he has no responsibility for all the products he makes.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Several characters experience one, although Baum's is most notable: He realizes the extent of what's going on, and the full impact it will have on the global economy after briefly talking to Wing Chau in Las Vegas.
    Mark Baum: Short everything that guy has touched.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Vennett is a self-admitted slimeball, but even he describes Wing Chau as a "real solid-gold asshole".
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Plenty of times, many of the people who are being reckless and/or fraudulent in the industry do so as if scamming people off their money to make a buck is party time.
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!: Geller has such a moment while he and Shipley call Rickert to discuss how illogical it is that the mortgage bonds have hit the critical default rate yet the bonds and CDOs have gone up in value, as that would mean that either the banks have no idea how to rate the bonds, or, they are aware and are deliberately hiding how worthless they are.
  • Fanservice: There's a reason Margot Robbie delivers a succinct lecture on mortgages while taking a bubble bath.
  • The Film of the Book: The third of Michael Lewis' books to be adapted to a film, after The Blind Side and 2011's Moneyball.
  • Foregone Conclusion: In case you didn't know, there's going to be a global financial collapse in 2008.
  • Four-Man Band: Baum and his team fit this. Although instead of a pervert trope, Vinnie fits a more traditional The Lancer role with Porter as The Smart Guy and Danny as the Butt-Monkey.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble:
    • Cynic: Vennett
    • Realist: Shipley and Geller
    • Apathetic: Burry and Rickert
    • Conflicted: Baum
  • Gone Horribly Right: A play of this trope. Everyone in the end gets away with big paydays on their bet against the financial system, but they also get a front row seat for the consequences from accurately betting that the system would fail.
  • Good Capitalism, Evil Capitalism: Lewis Ranieri and his associates in the 1970s were the Good, as Ranieri's invention of the mortgage backed securities was born out of a desire to create new investments that were both profitable and carried little risk to stakeholders like state pension funds. The bankers in the modern day are the Evil, as they completely ignored the economic and market fundamentals of the initial securities so they could enrich themselves at the expense of the public.
  • Greed: The main motivator for much of the conflict of the film -and indeed, the 2008's economical crisis-. From the banks to the rating agencies and across people of all the echelons of the industry, the crisis ultimately fed on the willingness of people to keep their bottomline growing at the expense of others, either blind to the consequences of their actions or ultimately indolent to them since they could get away with them without suffering any repercusion.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Played with; for most of the film, Baum assumes the crisis is down to idiots who are too short-sighted to realise what they're causing, and this certainly applies to many of the (mostly low- or mid-level) people he meets. The mortgage brokers bear this out; when the stripper tells Baum they told her she could always refinance, Baum at first says they're liars (which they'd already proven in other areas), before admitting that in this particular case they probably are honestly wrong, which is proven by the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue showing them looking for work. After the bailout, however, Baum realises that the upper-echelons of the banks might have predicted exactly what would happen every step of the way, and is put into a Heroic BSoD at discovering how heartlessly selfish and greedy people can be.
  • Heel Realization: When Rickert spells out the consequences of what's about to happen with housing and the entire economy, Shipley and Geller suddenly feel like bad guys when they realize how much the collapse they'll be profiting off of will harm millions of ordinary people.
  • Here We Go Again!:
    • Dr. Burry is now betting against water, which means he's predicted another shortage in the future.
    • The Miami estate agents are seen at the end of the film at a seminar detailing how to turn the economic crisis to their advantage - typically done by buying foreclosed or repossessed homes at knock-down prices and renting them out. Many of the companies doing this have profited immensely from the huge increase in the rental market as well as creating Rental Backed Securities.
    • The banks as of 2015 have repackaged CDOs, which means that another economic slowdown is imminent.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Baum is put into an escalating one throughout the film, starting after realising just how corrupt and stupid they are during the meeting in Vegas, and another after the bailout, when he realises that his assumption that the crisis was caused by stupidity rather than malice might have been wrong, and that the higher-ups in the banks might have known exactly what a disaster they were causing and just didn't care.
    • Burry has one himself when the mortgage default rate starts hitting the critical meltdown point but the value of the mortgage bonds and the CDOs instead go up in value, putting at risk his fund since this stretched the ultimate collapse of the market for longer than predicted. This is the point when he starts to realise how much fraud is within the financial system.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: When Burry approaches Goldman Sachs (and then a few other banks) to create for him a new investment tool - credit swaps that pay off in case of failure of CDOs - they eagerly go along with it, thinking he's some sort of lunatic that they can easily fleece. After all, there is no way the mortgage and real estate market will collapse. By doing so, every single bank Burry made a deal with ends up not only going down with the financial meltdown, but on top of that, they also have to pay him for his swaps, netting his fund almost 2.7 billion. And that's just Burry, since others of course also used the tools he created. The very bankers Burry made the deal with ended up without jobs by the end of it, completely puzzled by what even happened.
  • Hookers and Blow: The bankers in the '80s are shown enjoying their new wealth and status by partying with strippers.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The film’s narrator criticises the banks for using convoluted and confusing jargon to distract their customers from fully understanding what they’re signing up for. The narrator then decides to have Margot Robbie give an honest and comprehensive explanation of how subprime mortgages work, while she’s sitting naked in a bubble bath.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Baum questions a stripper about her mortgage situation while she's giving him a private (topless) dance, and maintains eye contact throughout. He does eventually ask her to stop moving, showing he was not simply oblivious.
  • Ignored Expert: The epilogue reveals Burry tried to contact the government several times so he could explain how he foresaw the collapse and how it could've been avoided. Instead, they audited him four times and had the FBI interrogate him.
  • Info Dump: Done in a unique way: rather than fill the audience in on complex financial things through traditional in-universe exposition, the film introduces celebrities to explain it, generally via less-complicated metaphors. We get Margot Robbie explaining mortgage bonds in a bubblebath, Anthony Bourdain using unsold fish to illustrate how banks handle unsold bonds, and Richard Thaler and Selena Gomez at a blackjack table illustrating how synthetic CDOs work.
  • Inherent in the System: The main characters realize that with the way the regulation and banking system is set up, it was a matter of when, not if, a crash would happen. Things such as sales commissions and ratings agencies being private entities only lead to the people working in the industry doing their jobs as they pertain to their self-interest.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The logic behind Collateralized Debt Obligations (CDOs) are as follows: a bunch of unsold low rated BBB, BB, and B bonds that didn't sell because investors considered them too risky are packaged into a new investment. Because the bonds have different risk levels, the ratings agencies consider them a diversified investment and grant them a high A level rating. Some are rated AAA, even though the CDO is, at its core, just individual low-rated bonds.
  • Insufferable Genius: When the market doesn't collapse and even goes up, Burry and his sole remaining employee at Scion have a discussion about the possibility of Burry simply being wrong about his financial predictions. He humbly admits that there indeed might be such a possibility, and invokes this very trope for himself as a reason why he can't accept the fact he might have been mistaken. In the end, however, he gets validated, and the market crashes harder than even he expected. Plus, there is of course, this exchange earlier on:
    Executive: So Mike Burry, a guy who gets his hair cut at Supercuts and doesn't wear shoes, knows more than Alan Greenspan and Hank Paulsen.
    Mike Burry: Doctor Mike Burry. Yes, he does.
  • Ironic Echo: Early on, Shipley and Gellar can't even get past the lobby of the big banks to get into the coveted trading floors to make deals. The security at Lehman Brothers keeps telling them to leave. By the end, when the economy does crash, the two are able to sneak their way past the helpless guards at Lehman Brothers to get inside the now-vacant trading floor to see for themselves how bad it got.
  • Jerkass:
    • Mark Baum, who has No Social Skills, drops F-bombs on anyone who crosses his path, and has very little patience for society's rules of common courtesy.
    • Jared Vennett is a total Slimeball and not only makes no attempt to hide it, but actively embraces what a douche he is.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: The two mortgage guys Baum and co. meet in Florida. At first they seem to just be sleazy, then they're revealed to be knowingly corrupt.
  • Just Before the End: A variation, the movie covers the build-up to the ultimate financial collapse of 2008 and the leads are only able to find a way to come ahead by betting against the system but are unable to stop the crash at all.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Double Subverted. Vennett says that Baum became worried that the bankers whose recklessness crashed the system would escape punishment. Fortunately, Vennett informs us, the government stepped in and prosecuted the bankers, and rewrote the regulations in order to prevent another collapse. Except, that's a lie. Instead, he says, the banks used their influence with Congress to kill common-sense regulations and push blame onto poor people, immigrants, and teachers, and only a single banker was prosecuted out of all the big-shots who were guilty of fraud.
    • Made poignant in a scripted version of the scene where Vennett shows off his bonus check. He got $47 million after making $20 billion for the bank through the swaps he sold. He then mentions his two bosses got $50 million in bonuses after they lost the bank $30 billion.
    • Subverted with the two sleazy mortgage guys from Florida. The end of the film shows them attending a job fair while appearing very defeated.
  • The Lancer: Vinnie, to Baum.
  • Large Ham: Vennett indulges in this when Vinnie and Baum agree to deal with him.
  • Layman's Terms: Whenever some complicated financial concept comes up, a celebrity appears to explain it in terms we can understand. Subprime loans = loans unlikely to be paid back = shit. CDO = package of subprime loans = pile of leftover food that a chef throws into a pot and serves as a fresh meal. Synthetic CDO = chain of increasingly large bets on subprime loans.
  • Lemony Narrator: Vennett narrates the story in the third person while constantly Breaking the Fourth Wall, dropping opinions, hanging lampshades, and generally messing with the audience.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Happens quite a bit, mostly when Baum, Geller or Shipley are finding out something about the banks' attitudes towards what's going on that they don't believe is possible. It's almost to the point of a Running Gag.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black:
    • The protagonists may be Anti-Heroes profiting off of an economic crisis, but what keeps them more sympathetic than the bankers they oppose is the fact that they had no hand in the events that led up to this point. Shipley and Geller actually try to warn the people what's going to happen once Rickert clues them in, to no avail.
    • Jarred Vennett is just as greedy as the bankers he intends to profit from once everything crashes down, however he stands out for actually being honest on his greed and what he intends to do to Baum and his team and ultimately doesn't pull the rug on them with the shorts he sells them.
      Jarred Vennett: When you come for the payday, I'll rip your eyes out. I'm gonna make a fortune. But the good news is you are not going to care because you are going to make so much fucking money. That's what I get out of it. You know what you get out of it? You get the ice cream, the hot fudge, the banana and the nuts. Right now I get the sprinkles, and yeah, if this goes through, I get the cherry. But you get the Sundae Vinny, you get the Sundae.
  • Literal Metaphor: Georgia, the financial auditor Baum and Vinny talk with, is nearly-blind and has a hard time reading even their card. She's literally turning a blind eye to the bad papers the banks are sending to her desk.
  • Manchild: A lot of the supposed financial experts act in a very childish way. Examples include the Florida mortgage brokers who act like high-school Jerk Jocks, playfully punching each other while in a room with experienced and serious hedge-fund managers, the various bankers at the shooting range in Vegas, who engage in over-the-top frat-boy cheers and chestbumps while supposedly entertaining clients, and the woman at Standard & Poor's, whose petulant Just Following Orders justification prompts Baum to incredulously ask her if she's four. Lampshaded at the end when Geller and Shipley walk inside a (deserted) Wall Street office, and comment that they were expecting to find adults.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": All of the attendants to Baum and Miller's debate have this reaction when they realise, after being told that Bear Sterns has fallen 38% during their conversation, that Baum is indeed in the right and Bear Sterns has entered an irreversible death spiral along with many of the other banks that participated in the sub-prime mortgage bubble.
  • Metal Head: Burry, who likes to work listening to heavy metal, and even plays the drums.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Defied. This trope is verbatim the reason why Rickert hates banking as it reduces people to mere numbers in a ledger regardless of the damage it causes to others. Eventually both Geller and Shipley share this view and go from being excited over their prospective earnings to horrified of the crash that is about to come.
  • Million to One Chance: Baum and Vennett only end up in business together due to a wrong-number phone call on Vennett's part.
  • Morally Bankrupt Banker: Far too many to list. And even the small handful of more level-headed people in the financial sector end up with the consequences created by greed of others.
  • Mood Whiplash: Initially, Geller and Shipley walk out from the casinos cheerful after being able to short the AA tranches at a low cost and secure themselves a net profit, then Rickert slams them both with the full consequences of what they are betting will happen as detailed below and shuts them down.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ben Rickert chews out Shipley and Geller for celebrating their deals when he reminds them what will happen when it all goes tits up as they hope — people will lose everything. The two immediately have this reaction, and start trying to warn their families and the media about the upcoming market collapse.
    Rickert: Do you realize what you've done? You're betting against the American economy! If we're right, people lose homes. People lose jobs. People lose retirement savings, people lose pensions. You know what I hate about fucking banking? It reduces people to numbers. Here's a number — every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?
  • Never My Fault: Georgia, an executive at Standard and Poors, excuses the fact that the rating agencies are basically selling out their assessments instead of properly rating the bonds first by saying that if they don't their competitors will simply give the banks what they want and run them out of business. When Baum calls her out on this, she then deflects her own hand in the fraud by saying she's under her boss' orders to do so.
  • Nice to the Waiter:
    • Zigzagged in the case of Baum, and it depends a lot on his mood; while openly contemptuous of bankers and people he thinks should know better/be better (and willing to be an inconsiderate Jerkass in general), he is perfectly polite and respectful to the stripper he is questioning about her mortgages, considering her an innocent victim. However, he lashes out at a waitress who interrupts him during a tense conversation with his colleagues, though this is more due to simply losing his temper than because he sees her as an inferior.
    • Averted with Vennett who repeatedly berates his PA.
  • No Social Skills:
    • Burry, by his own admission. He has trouble interacting with his co-workers and investors, is awkward in one-on-one interactions with his employees, and met his wife on
    • Baum, to a lesser extent. He has trouble keeping his opinion to himself, and as his Establishing Character Moment shows, doesn't seem to get or respect the rules of a therapy group.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Whilst investigating the housing market in Florida, Baum goes to a strip joint to talk to strippers who have been sold bad mortgages by predatory brokers. Baum is pointedly only interested in talking about finance to the stripper giving him a private dance.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
    • One of the fourth wall moments is used to mention how unbelievable but actually true it was that Baum was lecturing about the failures of the subprime mortgage market against a Bear Stearns investor as a run on Bear Stearns' stock occurred. This contrasts the earlier Contrived Coincidence of Geller and Shipley finding a copy of Vennett's pitch in the lobby of the J.P. Morgan Chase building, where the movie admits that it was made up for dramatic effect, and quickly details the complicated, but mundane, actual events.
    • Another occurs when Baum interrupts the keynote address at an investors' convention to tell him that that there is a zero percent chance that things will not get worse, then gets interrupted by a call on his cell phone and walks out before the speaker can respond. Vennett assures the audience that it actually happened.
  • Obliviously Evil:
    • Shipley and Geller don't really understand the implications of the economic collapse they plan to profit off of until Rickert gives them a brutal reality check.
    • None of the on-screen people we see contributing to the crisis seem to fully realise what they're doing; yes, they know they are variously ripping-off ordinary people, passing their own gambling risk off to other businesses and using dishonest ratings to make it all work, but they all seem to think they're engaging in harmless book-cooking rather than catastrophically undermining the global economy. Baum works on this assumption throughout (and his angry rant about the unsustainability of fraud assumes stupidity rather than malice), but he broken-heartedly revises his opinion after the bailout.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • All the main characters get this in 2007 when mortgages begin to fail as expected... but the bonds they're shorting that are made up of these failing mortgages continue to go up in value. This, they all eventually realize, is because all the banks are lying about what's going on, and continuing to prop-up their CDOs' values, despite the obvious fact mortgage defaults are increasing. This delays the eventual meltdown for longer than any of them are prepared to deal with, as they have to pay fees back to the banks who under-wrote the credit default swaps they purchased, which they have yet to pay off (but which, obviously, eventually they do).
    • Burry's fund in particular is hit hard, as it is managed by him alone, and he begins to need to lay off employees as his fund moves into the red. He later uses his fiduciary power as fund manager to stop people from withdrawing their money entirely, which leads to his e-mailbox and phone blowing up, and then eventually to investor lawsuits. note 
    • The man in Florida has one when he realizes the people from Baum's team that he was talking to were saying his landlord is behind on the mortgage payments for the house he's renting. The members of Baum's team interviewing him have one as well when they ask for the occupant of the house (based on the paperwork they have), and the man says the "person" they're asking for is his landlord's dog.
    • Not counting Baum's earlier "Eureka!" Moment in Vegas, Baum and his team have a collective one when they discover that Morgan Stanley, which underwrites their investment group, is just as deep into the toxic CDOs as the other banks, and they could potentially lose everything if the bank goes under — they realize in a sense they've been betting against themselves.
    • All of the bankers Burry met with in 2005 have a big one in 2008 when they realize the Bunny-Ears Lawyer wasn't insane, but predicted their current crisis. Goldman Sachs in particular gets a comeuppance moment.
    • After being lectured by Rickert, Shipley and Geller realize the real world implications of what they're predicting. Geller is so shaken he calls his mother to warn her to save her money.
    • Later on, Shipley and Geller have another one when New Century bank files for bankruptcy as they realise that the collapse has finally begun and the banks are selling the failing CDOs without disclosing their real value until their sale is complete, essentially passing the bomb they have created to other people so it can blow up on them, the two decide to try to warn the media about what is happening - which isn't interested.
    • As the crisis begins, Rickert eventually sells off Shipley and Geller's holdings for a large payday, but not as large as they wanted because Bear Stearns, whose bonds they shorted, is in a dead spiral. He ultimately sells most of them to overseas banks, because the crisis hasn't caught up to them (yet).
    • On a meta level, Burry (as told in the epilogue) now only investing in water resources could trigger this for audiences: he saw one crash coming...
    • Similarly, the epilogue notes that banks have already started repackaging subprime mortgages under a different name, which probably sent a chill down the spine of everyone watching.
    • Baum and the stripper he interviews share an Oh, Crap! moment when he tells her that her monthly mortgage payments are likely to go up at least 200%, and she reveals that she has five houses and a condo, all of which she bought under the impression that she could always refinance, which won't be the case if prices don't go up.
    • Baum and Vinny later on have one after Georgia tells them that S&P and other ratings agencies are basically selling scores instead of doing their job as they are supposed to.
    • Shipley also has a moment of dawning horror after Evie, who works at the SEC, explains that not only is her department not investigating the mortgages due to budget cuts, but also that she, and implicitly others as well, care more about being in good graces with the banks to get a job in them after their term is over than actually doing their work.
  • Only Sane Man: Most of the lead characters, who are surrounded by so many others in the banking industry blinded by their own greed to realize how crazy their subprime shell game had become. Even Burry and Rickert, with their personal quirks, are perfectly rational about what the hell is going on.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: The protagonists all profit off of the collapse while most people suffer. Notably, the leads fully realize this, creating the film's Downer Ending.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The original reason why Baum ended up giving Vennett's proposal the time of the day is because he wanted a way to get back at the banking industry for all the crap they have done so far and for being part of the reason why his brother committed suicide.
    Baum: Banks have given us 25% of interest rate on credit cards, they have saddled us with student debt that we will never get out from under; then this guy comes in and tells me those same banks got greedy, they lost track of the market and I can profit off their stupidity? Fuck yeah! I want him to be right.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Burry works past his No Social Skills to give some advice to a young employee before he leaves the office.
    • Vennett is upfront about the fact he only cares about making money for himself, but when Baum tells him he wants to buy more swaps from him after meeting with the Merryl-Lynch CDO manager, Vennett warns him that doing so could result in Baum's fund going bankrupt from having to pay the collateral calls until the bonds collapse. How much of it is genuine care and how much Enlightened Self-Interest (since his own profit would be far smaller if Baum goes under) is up for debate.
    • Vennett gives Baum one last heads-up about Benny Kleeger (a stand-in for Howie Hubler), who trades in bond at Morgan Stanley, taking heavy losses and suggests him to sell his shorts now before Morgan goes under and he has nothing left to short.
    • Despite having a frosty relationship with Cathy across the film, Baum genuinely congratulates her on her baby.
  • Platonic Prostitution: Or a platonic strip club. Baum talks to a stripper about her mortgage situation, and eventually asks her to stop the stripping and talk to him more about her finances, promising to still pay her.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The biggest difference between Vennett and the banks he works for is that he recognises how short-sighted and self-destructive is the level of fraud being done in Wall Street when being honest could earn them more sustainable profits. Notably, while his co-workers were quick to pop bottles of champagne after making their deal with Burry, he instead questioned why someone would invest over a billion dollars in what was seemingly a foolhardy deal and had his team investigate and run the numbers on the housing market.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In a movie full of swearing, Vinnie drops a beautifully executed one of these, which doubles as Exact Words:
      [Mark is on the phone to Vinnie, while the guys from Morgan Stanley's risk assessment team are in the adjoining office to Vinnie's.]
      Mark Baum: I want you to walk back in there and very calmly, very politely, tell the risk assessers to fuck off. [...]
      Vinnie: Ok. [...]
      [He hangs up and goes into the other office. The risk assessment guys look up at him.]
      Vinnie: Uh, gentlemen? I spoke with Mark Baum. He says to fuck off.
    • Margot Robbie's explanation of mortgage-backed securities and subprime loans ends with one, as she is enjoying champagne in a bubblebath:
      Robbie: Got it? Good. [sips champagne] Now fuck off.
  • Prefers Going Barefoot: Michael Burry is seen plenty of times walking around the Scion office barefoot. His doubters use this to mock him, among his other weird traits. "So Mike Burry, who gets his hair cut at Supercuts, and doesn’t wear shoes, knows more than Alan Greenspan." Well, go figure, he sort of did...
  • Present-Day Past: Mostly averted. The cell phones and other electronics match 2005 when the film's main plot begins, but advertisements on billboards and on screens, as well as the celebrity cameos, are very clearly from 2015. No attention was paid to making sure the background vehicles were period appropriate, as numerous cars seen were of a later manufacture than the scene's setting.
  • Properly Paranoid: Ben Rickert doesn't want anyone to be able to know where he is at any given time and makes it as difficult as possible to contact him (even having multiple phone numbers). He's also positive that the NSA is monitoring phone conversations for certain keywords and phrases and tells Charlie and Jamie to watch what they say. Later on in the epilogue, Dr. Burry gets investigated by the FBI multiple times when he simply offers to tell Congress how he knew the crash was coming, proving Ben wasn't that paranoid.
  • Rage Breaking Point: After being told that Morgan Stanley's exposure is 15 billion dollars, Baum puts his foot down on waiting for the shorts to keep raising in value deliberately to make things more painful for the banks even if that comes at the risk of them going under.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mark Baum is one, as he's willing to listen to Vennett's pitch that has been rejected by just about every other fund in the city, but also do some investigating of his own just to make sure he's correct.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Mark Baum gives one directed towards the fraudulent banking system (and fraud itself) during his debate with still-bullish investor Bruce Miller.
      Mark Baum: And what bothers me isn't that fraud is "not nice," or that fraud is "mean." It's that for fifteen thousand years, fraud and short-sighted thinking has never, ever worked. Not once. How the hell did we all forget that?
    • Rickert gives one to Geller and Shipley for celebrating a particularly lucrative deal they've made, pointing out that the huge payday they're banking on is going to come at the expense of people's homes, jobs, savings, lives, and the entire American economy.
      Ben Rickert: You know what I hate about fucking banking? It reduces people to numbers. Here's a number- every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die. Did you know that?
  • Refuge in Audacity: Several of the characters in the movie flaunt this attitude, proud of how much money they're making for essentially selling shoddy goods. This trope is deconstructed by the fact that the characters who engage in this attitude are shown as juvenile tools with no sense of responsibility or knowledge of the consequences of their actions and by showing the end results of applying this attitude on a systematic level. It gets far, far less amusing when Baum realises the top echelon isn't any better, being too busy with here-and-now big profit to see the long-term consequences.
    Mark Baum: I don't get it. Why are they confessing?
    Danny Moses: They're not confessing.
    Porter Collins: They're bragging.
  • Right Hand Versus Left Hand: Once the collapse started showing up, and learning about which individual bonds were imploding, Baum realizes that some of the shorts they bought looped back around to be paid out by his own financial group. The dread on his face is clear, and he says "All this time I've been wondering who I'm shorting against..."
  • Rotating Protagonist: The film follows three groups of people: Michael Burry and Scion Capital; Vennett, Baum, and Baum's employees; Shipley, Geller, and Rickert. All three storylines are completely self-contained; none of the three groups ever appear onscreen together. The actions of the characters are spurred on by learning second-hand about the actions of the others, with Burry at the top of the pyramid (ex. Vennett's part in the story starts when he sees a guy talking about the deal he just made with Burry). Shipley and Geller do share a brief crossover with Baum and co.; they walk out of frame at the conference in a shot that continues with Baum and co. walking into frame.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Baum's friend at the ratings agency is literally near-blind.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Seen repeatedly in most people involved in the housing and financial markets throughout the film. Even when data of a looming apocalypse is laid out in front of them, they refuse to believe it.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Ben Rickert was a successful financial trader before he quit after becoming disillusioned with the markets and the people who work them. Charlie and Jamie eventually come around to share his opinions after realizing that their immense profit came with the suffering of millions of people.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Or want money. Or don't get paid enough to care about the rules. The SEC agent -Evie- Shipley and Geller meet in Vegas is happy to hobnob with bankers to try to get a cushy job instead of investigating them. And Georgia, the S&P executive, doesn't crack down on the bankers, because if she did they'd just go to S&P's competition instead.
  • Sexposition: Parodied. The film sometimes uses Fanservice while trying to explain an economic concept to the audience, but also gently chastises them for not understanding the topic; for example, a scene where Margot Robbie is Dining in the Buff while explaining subprime mortgages, which ends with Robbie telling the audience to fuck off.
  • Shout-Out: When Baum is just beginning to understand the magnitude of the impending disaster during dinner with Wing Chau, Vennett says he looks like the bad guy from Dune.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Lewis Ranieri (Rudy Eisenzopf) only appears in a flashback scene in the first few minutes of the film. However, because he was the person who first suggested the idea of mortgage-backed securities in 1977, he is responsible for the inflation and eventual bursting of the housing bubble that drives the actions of every major character in the rest of the film. Jared Vennett even observes in his opening narration that most people have never heard of Ranieri, and yet he has had a greater impact on our lives than the social media revolution.note 
  • Smash Cut: While investigating whether there is a housing bubble, Baum asks a stripper "What do you mean 'all your loans'? You have two loans on one house, right?", she replies: "I have five houses. And a condo". Smash cut to Baum on the phone: "Hey, there's a bubble".
  • Smug Snake:
    • Vennett. He's a sleazy, tanned, over-slick guy, but not a Jerk with a Heart of Jerk like other characters, because he is at least honest and upfront with people.
      Vennett: I never said I was the hero of this story.
    • The two mortgage brokers in Florida talking to Baum and his team are only too happy to explain how they're getting rich fleecing their clients with terrible mortgages.
      Baum: I don't get it. Why are they confessing?
      Moses: They're not confessing.
      Collins: They're bragging.
    • Wing Chau, the inventor of "synthetic CDOs" whom Mark meets in Las Vegas. When Baum expresses disbelief at how he's created the "atomic bomb" of banking, Chau smirks and taunts him by asking how their net worths compare.
      Chau: You think I'm a parasite, don't you, Mr. Baum? Yet apparently society values me very much.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • The soundtrack abruptly launches in and out of "Money Maker" by Ludacris while Burry sedately makes some business deals in dull-looking offices.
    • Burry blasting Metallica, Mastodon and Pantera in his office while working.
  • Stunned Silence:
    • Baum and his associates are left speechless after Vennett explains how utterly broken the subprime housing market it, and the impending bubble that's about to burst and take the entire US housing market with it.
    • Shipley has one moment when he realises that not only is the SEC unable to track the mortgage bonds due to budget cuts, but also that Evie, who works for the SEC, is deliberately being neglectful at her job so she can secure herself a better position in the banking industry once her tenure is over.
    • After Baum discovers that his own bank is about to suffer losses that leave even his most pessimistic worries in the dust, he just gapes mutely for a few seconds.
      Baum: What's your exposure? Three billion? [Beat] Please don't tell me it's more than four.
      Cathy: The long exposure is... fifteen billion.
  • Stupid Evil: As Vennett points out and Baum's team and Shipley and Geller later corroborate in the American Securitization Forum, a lot of the people in charge of the market are not only short-sighted and clueless but also willingly fraudulent to the point of self-sabotage. This is later alluded to in Baum's speech when he points out how fraud is not only immoral, but also deeply foolish at its core, yet somehow there are always people trying anyway, learning zero lessons from all of human history.
  • That Didn't Happen: The S&P officer admits that they rate the mortgage bonds very high — sight unseen — so the banks won't go to Moody's for their credit score.
    Georgia: ...and I never said that.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!:
    Executive: So Mike Burry, a guy who gets his hair cut at Supercuts and doesn't wear shoes, knows more than Alan Greenspan and Mike Paulsen.
    Mike Burry: Doctor Mike Burry. Yes, he does.
  • Title Drop: Just before Baum and Bruce Miller have their “Ali vs Foreman of the financial world” debate, Vennett drops the movie's title in plural.
    Vennett: As the banks continued to haemorrhage, only one of the Big Shorts refused to sell - Mark Baum.
  • Time-Passes Montage: Two are used to mark moving from the 70s to the 2000s using a series of stills and clips of the intervening decades, and a shorter one to mark the mid-2000s.
  • Two Scenes, One Dialogue: Geller, on a phone conference with Shipley and Rickert — the latter of which is trying to hang up for a colonic appointment — suggests they buy more swaps after figuring out that they're going to make a huge profit off of the housing collapse. Shipley disagrees loudly. Meanwhile, Vennett returns to FrontPoint and expects his payout. Both FrontPoint and Shipley start screaming variations of "No" and obscenities, leading to this blink-and-you'll-miss-it joke:
    Rickert: No seriously, a colonic once a year.
    Vinny, screaming obscenities at Vennett: Ass!
The same scenes' crosstalk leads both parties to go to the American Securitization Forum in Las Vegas.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Lewis Ranieri. The mortgage-backed securities he invented were originally filled with AAA-rated mortgages that were virtually guaranteed to return a profit and remain solvent. Then when the banks ran out of AAA mortgages to put into securities, they started filling them with sub-prime mortgages...note 
  • Villainy-Free Villain: Jared Vennett is a Villain Protagonist version. He is personally a selfish and greedy slimeball, but he is completely honest in his financial dealings throughout the film even when he'd stand to gain by exaggerating about the scope of the crisis and the other protagonists stand to gain millions if they do what he says.
  • Visual Pun: The transition scene at the end of the Las Vegas convention ends with a shot overlooking a highway with a giant billboard of Martin Short; literally, a "Big Short".
  • The Watson: Baum and his team take this role when talking to Vennett about the possibility of shorting the mortgage bonds.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: A very effective one from Rickert, who becomes furious when Shipley and Geller start loudly celebrating their shorts, pointing out that if they're right, people are going to die. They are very shaken.
    Rickert: If we're right, people lose homes. People lose jobs. People lose retirement savings, people lose pensions. You know what I hate about fucking banking? It reduces people to numbers. Here's a number — every 1% unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?... Just don't fucking dance.
  • Wham Line:
    • It's a Foregone Conclusion for the audience that there's going to be a total disaster, and most of the protagonists are aware of it and in a position to profit from it, but Baum discovering the extent of his own bank's projected losses leaves him lost for words.
      Cathy: The long exposure is... fifteen billion.
    • Another is when a stripper tells Baum about her ownership situation.
      Stripper: I have 5 houses....and a condo.
    • One of the biggest one is when Chau describes what synthetic CDOs are and he gives an estimate of how much money is tied up in what is essentially betting on the good performance of the CDOs which, as the film has pointed out before, are filled with high risk bonds that are pretty much financial trash.
      Baum: How much bigger is the market for insuring mortgage bonds than actual mortgages?
      Chau: About twenty times.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The movie ends with text describing the eventual fates of the main characters.
  • Wretched Hive: The American Securitization Forum is played up like this in the film, and it shows given how many of its attendants are clueless or neglectful of the impact that the default rate of the mortgages will have in the economy so long as they get their money.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Vennett's entire deal. His plan doesn't hinge on the housing bubble actually collapsing, only on someone buying into his conviction that it will. As soon as FrontPoint Partners is in, he has already won, regardless of how the situation turns out.


Video Example(s):


The Big Short

Margot Robbie explains subprime mortgages while sipping champagne in a bubble bath.

How well does it match the trope?

4.25 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DiningInTheBuff

Media sources: