The Big Short (film)

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The Big Short is a 2015 film about four denizens of the world of high-finance who predict the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s, and decide to take on the big banks for their greed and lack of foresight.

Directed by Adam McKay. Written by Adam McKay and Charles Randolph, based on the book by Michael Lewis.
This is a true story.

Mark Baum

  • I am happy when I'm unhappy.[1]
  • And I'm getting madder and madder, and I ask this guy how he sleeps at night knowing he's ripping off working people and he just leaves. He doesn't say a word. He just walks away from the lunch. So, am I the fucked up one, or is he?
  • [On the phone] Let me ask you this: What company treats its customers that shittily and succeeds?...Fine, okay, Goldman.
  • So, mortgage bonds are dog shit, and CDO's are dog shit wrapped in cat shit?
  • The banks have given us 25% interest rates on credit cards. They have screwed us on student loans that we can never get out from under. Then this guy walks into my office and says those same banks got greedy, they lost track of the market, and I can profit off of their stupidity? Fuck yeah, I want him to be right!
  • [Regarding Vennett] I can't hate him. He's so transparent in his self-interest, that I kind of respect him. Would I buy a car from him? No.
  • It's two simple questions: Is there a bubble? And if there is, how exposed are the banks?
  • We live in an era of fraud in America. Not just in banking, but in government, education, religion, food, even baseball... What bothers me isn't that fraud is not nice. Or that fraud is mean. For fifteen thousand years, fraud and short-sighted thinking have never, ever worked. Not once. Eventually, you get caught, things go south. When the hell did we forget all that? I thought we were better than this, I really did.
  • I'm going to try to find moral redemption at the roulette table.
  • Holy shit. All this time I've been trying to figure out who it is I'm betting against, and it's Morgan-Stanley. Which is me.
  • We're going to wait and we're going to wait and we're going to wait until they feel the pain until they start to bleed.
  • They knew. They knew the taxpayers would bail them out. They weren't being stupid; they just didn't care.
  • I have a feeling in a few years people are going to be doing what they always do when the economy tanks. They will be blaming immigrants and poor people.
  • [Last line of the movie] Okay...sell it all.

Michael Burry

  • That's a nice haircut, did you do it yourself?
  • Lawrence, I don't know how to be sarcastic.
  • I may have been early, but I'm not wrong.
  • [Final letter to his investors] I met my wife through My profile said, "I am a medical student with only one eye, an awkward social manner, and $145,000 in student loans." She wrote back, "You're just what I've been looking for." She meant "honest", so let me be honest. Making money is not like what I thought it would be. This business kills the part of life that is essential, the part that has nothing to do with business. For the past two years, my insides have felt like they've been eating themselves. All the people that I respected won't talk to me anymore, except through lawyers. People want an authority to tell them how to value things, but they choose this authority not based on facts or results. They choose it because it seems authoritative and familiar. And I am not, nor ever have been, "familiar." I have come to the sullen realization that I must close down the fund. Sincerely, Michael J. Burry, M.D.

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?
  • Do you realize what you just did? You just bet 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?
  • Just...don't fucking dance.
  • I'm trying to sell $200 million worth of a smells like sheep.
  • If you don't want the offer, you can just hang up...that's what I thought.
  • You guys said you wanted to be rich, now you're rich.

Jared Vennett

  • [Opening monologue] In the late '70s, banking wasn't a job you went into to make large sums of money. It was a fucking snooze, filled with losers. Like selling insurance or accounting. And if banking was boring, then the bond department at the bank was straight up comatose. We all know about bonds. You give 'em to your snot-nosed kid when he turns 15; maybe, when he's 30, he makes a hundred bucks. Boring. That is until Lewis Ranieri came on the scene at Salomon Brothers. You might not know who he is, but he changed your life more than Michael Jordan, the iPod, and YouTube put together. You see, Lewis didn't know it yet, but he had already changed banking forever with one simple idea.
  • The money came raining down, and for the first time, the banker went from the country club to the strip club. Pretty soon, stocks and savings were almost inconsequential. They were doing $50, $100, $200 billion in mortgage bonds and dozens of other securities a year, and America barely noticed as its number one industry became boring old banking. And then, one day, almost 30 years later, in 2008, it all came crashing down. In the end, Lewis Ranieri's mortgage-backed security mutated into a monstrosity that collapsed the whole world economy, and none of the experts or leaders or talking heads had a clue it was coming. I'm guessing most of you still don't really know what happened. Yeah, you got a soundbite you repeat so you don't sound dumb but come on. But there were some who saw it coming. While the whole world was having a big old party, a few outsiders and weirdos saw what no one else could. Not me. I'm not a weirdo, I'm pretty fucking cool, but we'll meet again later. These outsiders saw the giant lie at the heart of the economy, and they saw it by doing something the rest of the suckers never thought to do: They looked.
  • Let me put it this way: I'm standing in front of a burning house, and I'm offering you fire insurance on it.
  • Is this America's angriest hedge fund?
  • Now their foot's on fire, they think their steak is done, and you're surprised?
  • Tell me the difference between stupid and illegal and I'll have my wife's brother arrested.
  • [Watching Mark talk with Wing Chau] Look at his face, he looks like the bad guy from Dune.
  • "And Caesar wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer."
  • [Looking at his bonus check of $47 million] So, I was right. I took a rash of shit for 2 years, but I was right and everyone was wrong. And, yeah, I got a big bonus for it. Sue me, you know? It's a lot of money, I know. I can feel you judging me. That's palpable. But, hey, I never said I was the hero of this story.


  • Margot Robbie: [In a bubble bath with a glass of champagne] Basically, Lewis Ranieri's mortgage bonds were amazingly profitable for the big banks. They made billions and billions on their 2% fee they got for selling each of these bonds. But then, they started running out of mortgages to put in them. After all, there are only so many homes and so many people with good enough jobs to buy them, right? So, the banks started filling these bonds with riskier and riskier mortgages. [Butler pours more champagne into her glass] (Thank you, Benjamin) That way, they can keep that profit machine churning, alright? By the way, these risky mortgages are called "subprime." So, whenever you hear the word "subprime," think "shit." Our friend, Michael Burry, found out that these mortgage bonds that were supposedly 65% AAA, were actually just, mostly, full of shit, so now, he's going to "short" the bonds, which means "to bet against." Got it? Good...[Takes a sip of champagne] Now, fuck off.
  • Lawrence Fields: Get me my fucking money back, you motherfucker.
  • Cynthia Baum: The therapist called. You did it again!
  • Cynthia Baum: You're not a saint. Saints don't live on Park Avenue.
  • Charlie Geller: Will you listen to me?! This, like, the end of capitalism! This is like the Dark Ages all over again!
  • Pub patron: [To Ben] Are you a drug dealer or a banker? Because if you're a banker, you can fuck right off!
  • Jamie Shipley: This level of criminality is unprecedented, even for fucking Wall Street!


Rabbi: Paul is a fine boy, and Mark is an excellent student of the Torah and the Talmud.
Mrs. Baum: Then what's the problem, Rabbi?
Rabbi: It's the reason Mark is studying so hard: he's looking for inconsistencies in the word of God!
Mrs. Baum: ...So has he found any?

Danny Moses: You're completely sure of the math?
Jared Vennett: Look at him, that's my quant.
Mark Baum: Your what?
Jared Vennett: My quantitative. My math specialist. Look at him, you notice anything different about him? Look at his face.
Mark Baum: That's pretty racist.
Jared Vennett: Look at his eyes. I'll give you a hint, his name is Yang. He won a national math competition in China; he doesn't even speak English! Yeah, I'm sure of the math.
Jiang: [To the camera] Actually, my name's "Jiang", and I do speak English. Jared likes to say I don't, because he thinks it makes me seem more "authentic." And... I placed 2nd in that national math competition.

Jared Vennett: [pulling blocks from a Jenga tower] As, zero. Bs, zero. Double Bs, zero. Triple Bs, zero... [the tower topples] And then that happens.
Mark Baum: What is that?
Jared Vennett: That's America's housing market.
[Baum's team stares in utter shock]
Jared Vennett: Thank you.
Chris: Fuckin' A, Jared.
Jared Vennett: Shut your fuckin' mouth.

Mark Baum: I don't get it. Why are they confessing?
Danny Moses: They're not confessing.
Porter Collins: They're bragging.

Mark Baum: It's time to call bullshit.
Vinnie Daniel: Bullshit on what?
Mark Baum: Every-fucking-thing.

Jared Vennett: [over the phone] Is this America's angriest hedge fund?
Vinnie Daniel: All right, listen. I got one last question for you: How are you fucking us?
Jared Vennett: There's a nicer way to say that, Vinnie.
Vinnie Daniel: I'm serious. We'll buy your swaps, but only if you say how you're fucking us.
Jared Vennett: I'm not fucking you, Vinnie. I'm kissing you. I'm looking deep into your eyes as I make sweet love to you, Vinnie. I'm handing you the deal of the century on a fucking platter. What do I get out of it? Easy. I got a $20-million-a-month negative carry. I got bosses trying to pull the plug because they think I'm out of my fucking mind, alright? We make this trade, those problems aren't so big anymore. And sure, swaps are a dark market, so I set the price.Whatever price I want. And when you come for the payday, I'm gonna rip your eyes out, I'm gonna make a fortune. But the good news is, Vinnie, you're not gonna care because you're gonna make so much fucking money. That's what I get out of it. Want to know what you get out of it? You get the ice cream, the hot fudge, the bananas, and the nuts. Right now, I get the sprinkles, and, yeah, if this goes through, I get the cherry. But you get the sundae, Vinnie! You get the sundae!
Vinnie Daniel: Alright, I buy that. Thank you.
Jared Vennett: You want me to make you a market?
Vinnie Daniel: Yeah. We'll take $50 million Garibaldi IV BBB.
Jared Vennett: Sharpen your pencils. I'll get the paperwork ready.
Vinnie Daniel: [sighs after hanging up the phone] Fuck you too.

[Mark is talking to CDO manager Wing Chau in a Vegas restaurant; Vennett & Mark's team watch from a nearby table]
Jared Vennett: Uh oh, your boss looks like he's about to explode.
Vinnie Daniel: No, he's too curious right now to explode.
Mark Baum: Hold on, hold on, say that again. CDO A has parts of CDO B and CDO B has parts CDO A, but then both get put inside CDO C?
Wing Chau: Yep, and that one's called a CDO Squared - a CDO of a CDO. And then there are CDOs made up of the opposite side of the bet you made with swaps. We call them synthetic CDOs.
Mark Baum: What did you just say? "Synthetic CDOs?" That is fucking crazy.
Wing Chau: It's not, it's awesome!
Jared Vennett: Look at his face; he looks like the bad guy from Dune.
Mark Baum: Alright, let's say you have...50 million in subprime loans. How much money could be out there betting on it through these synthetic CDOs and swaps? Right now, tonight?:
Wing Chau: 50 million? A billion dollars.
Mark Baum: What??
Jared Vennett: [voiceover] If the mortgage bonds that Michael Burry discovered were the match...
Mark Baum: How much bigger is the market for insuring mortgage bonds than actual mortgages?
Wing Chau: About twenty times.
Jared Vennett: [voiceover] If the mortgage bonds were the match, and the CDOs were the kerosene-soaked rags, then the synthetic CDO was the atomic bomb with a drunk president holding his finger over the button. It was at that moment, in that dumb restaurant with that stupid look on his face, that Mark Baum realized the whole world economy might collapse.

Mark Baum: [After his conversation with Wing Chau] Short everything that man has touched. I want another half-billion in swaps by the end of the day.
Jared Vennett: Are you sure about that? The collateral calls could bankrupt you.
Mark Baum: Yeah.
Porter Collins: Where are you going?
Mark Baum: I'm going to try to find moral redemption at the roulette table.

Mark Baum: [on the phone] Ok, I want you to walk back in there and very calmly, very politely tell the risk-assessors to fuck-off.
Vinnie Daniel: [Walks into the room] Gentlemen, I just spoke with Mark Baum...he says to 'fuck off'.

Mark Baum: [Gets a call from Vennett] Jared? It's chaos down here, where're we?
Jared Vennett: [Walks into the employee bathroom] "And Caesar wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer." [Sees a co-worker next to him] Shane? SHANE?? [Shane leaves] Well, nobody's buying CDO's or mortgage bonds anymore, and everybody wants swaps. Swaps are now the most popular product on the street.
Mark Baum: That's good for us.
Jared Vennett: Yes and no. I heard from somebody who heard from somebody—[Another employee walks in] No, Alex, no. Sorry. [Alex turns around and leaves] Benny Kleager over at Morgan's taking on some heavy losses in the bond department. Your ship might be taking on water; might be time to get our lifejacket and get out. Oh, I'm jacked. I'm JACKED! I'M JACKED TO THE TITS!
Mark Baum: ...Good.
Jared Vennett: Do you feel it?
Mark Baum: No. [Hangs up]

Bruce Miller: As some of you may know, Bear Stearns has just received a loan from JP Morgan. Of course, we're gonna have to wait and see how the markets react, but that should lay to rest any concerns about the bank's health.
Debate host: Now, I take it you have no plans to sell your $200 million in Bear stock?
Bruce Miller: No, as a matter of fact, when we're done here, I'll probably go out and buy some more. [Crowd lightly chuckles]
Debate host: For the opposing view, Mr. Baum.
Mark Baum: I got to stand for this. [Takes the microphone and stands] Okay, hi. My firm's thesis is pretty simple. Wall Street took a good idea, Lewis Ranieri's mortgage bond, and turned it into an atomic bomb of fraud and stupidity that's on its way to decimating the world economy.
Bruce Miller: How do you really feel? [Crowd laughs]
Mark Baum: I'm glad you still have a sense of humor; I wouldn't if I were you. Now, anyone who knows me knows that I have no problem telling someone they're wrong...
Danny Moses: [In the crowd, looking at Bear Stearns' stock price live on his Blackberry, showing Vinny and Porter; they speak in hushed whispers] (Bear Stearns is denying rumors of liquidity problems...Holy fuck, it's 39 now!)
Mark Baum: not so enjoyable. We live in an era of fraud in America. Not just in banking, but in government, education, religion, food, even baseball. What bothers me isn't that fraud is not nice or that fraud is mean. It's that, for 15,000 years, fraud and short-sighted thinking have never, ever worked. Not once.
Danny Moses: (Jesus, Bear at 37. Bear's at 37.)
Mark Baum: Eventually, people get caught, things go south.
Vinny Daniel: (Plummeting.)
Danny Moses: (It's fucking plummeting, man.)
Mark Baum: When the hell did we forget all that? I thought we were better than this, I really did. And the fact that we're not doesn't make me feel alright and superior. It makes me feel...sad.
Danny Moses: (Every time I fucking hit "refresh", it's dropping, man. Every time.)
Mark Baum: And as much fun as it is to watch pompous, dumb Wall Streeters be wildly wrong, [To Miller] and you are wrong, sir, I just know, that at the end of the day, average people are going to be the ones that are going to have to pay for all this. Because they always, always do.
Porter Collins: (It's 32. 32.)
Danny Moses: (It's fucking tanked, man.)
Mark Baum: That's my two cents, thank you. [Sits down]
Porter Collins: (Let me drop a deuce on Deutsche).
Debate host: Does our bull have a response?
Bruce Miller: Only that, in the entire history of Wall Street, no investment bank has ever failed unless caught in criminal activities. So, yes, I stand by my Bear Stearns optimism.
Man in crowd: Mr. Miller, I'm sorry, quick question. From the time you guys started talking, Bear Stearns stock has fallen more than 38%. [People in the crowd start murmuring in surprise] Would you still buy more?
Bruce Miller: [Trying to be optimistic] Y-yeah, sure...of course I'd buy more. Why not?
Mark Baum: BOOM.

Charlie Geller: [As he and Jamie look around in the abandoned trading floor of Lehman Brothers after its collapse] This isn't how I pictured it.
Jamie Shipley: What'd you think we'd find?
Charlie Geller: I don't know...Grownups.




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