This article reveals up to 25 powerful finance documentaries you absolutely must watch, exactly why each is really awesome & lessons that can help you with your finances.



For the most part, everyone enjoys taking in a movie.

Movies can be entertaining and for roughly 2 hours we can escape from the challenges of daily life and problems that we are facing and enter into a different world.

Some of the movies can make us laugh, cry, scare us, and transport us to a different world, etc.

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In addition to these entertainment films, are movies that can sometimes be entertaining but also educational and enlightening.

These movies are known as documentaries and they are films in which individuals go behind the scenes of a particular real-life theme, specific challenge or problem that is being faced by people in the world today.

Documentaries are filmed to document the realities of the challenge that is being focused on and can include interviews, filming of actual events, doing investigative film reporting, etc.

Sometimes, documentaries can be heartbreaking and make us angry as they delve deeper into these challenges that society faces and lay bare the situation that is being faced and its effect on people and society in general.

Let us turn on the lights, roll the cameras and look at the action of the 25 best finance documentaries.


25 Absolute Best Finance Documentaries


1. Inside Job

Inside Job is a full-blown revelation that completely exposes the shocking truth behind the financial crisis that was experienced in 2008.

This global financial catastrophe had an estimated cost of over $20 trillion that was reflected in millions of people losing their homes and their jobs.

The movie utilizes extensive research and interviews with a variety of financial insiders, journalists, and politicians.

Read more about Inside Job on Wikipedia and Watch it on Netflix here.


2. Trader

This film was produced before the significant crash that occurred in October 1987.

It provides a detailed look at futures trading and endeavors to define the workings of this highly charged area of Wall Street.

Also, the prediction by a man by the name of Jones, who predicts the end of the 200-year bull market, is thoroughly examined.

If this is the case, then the world and our country are about to experience some significant negative economic changes that are unprecedented.


3. 25 Million Pounds

25 Million Pounds is a story about a man by the name of Nick Leeson who wanted to be rich and famous.

He had the uncanny ability to manipulate and completely bring people under his spell.

The people he interacted with were deceived and bought into a dream that he weaved like a spider weaves a web.

The allurement of riches and vast sums of money was the driving force behind their being taken in by this man and when all done and said 830 million pounds were lost due to the deceitfulness of this man.


4. Breaking the Bank

The documentary entitled Breaking the Bank focuses on the billions of dollars involved in the huge and risky housing market.

The process is a boom for super banks as they earned billions of dollars, devoured the competitors and ruled over the real estate landscape.

When the bottom dropped out of the housing market, brand name banks came close to imploding and nearing bankruptcy.

What saved the banking industry for these particular banks was the intervention by the federal government.

This documentary cracks open the closed doors to truly reveal the entire story of all that occurred.


5. The Ascent of Money

The Ascent of Money is a documentary that was produced based on the book of the same name.

The original version was aired in six episodes.

The titles of those episodes are:

  • Dreams of Avarice
  • Human Bondage
  • Blowing Bubbles
  • Risky Business
  • Safe Houses
  • Chimerica

The various topics of this documentary include the origins of credit and debt, power and control of money, fragility of the stock market, insurance, the mortgage industry, and the globalization of the Western economy and the relationship between China and the United States.


6. Commanding Heights

This documentary is based on a book and was adapted into a film in 2002.

The premise of the book and the documentary is that prior to World War I the world lived in a state of globalization.

After World War II the authors claim that the influence of an economist by the name of John Maynard Keynes came to be widely accepted in Western economies.

The hypothesis of this economist was that government regulation of the economy was needed.

The documentary then goes on to talk about the political changes realized in the 1980s through influential and political leaders such as Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Another aspect of the documentary is the concern of the inequality in economies and if the Third World nations are not provided the same financial opportunities that the end result will be the same and that the economic growth will be stagnant.


7. Life and Debt

This documentary takes an intense look at the ways that the policies of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and other organizations and how they have influenced the economy of Jamaica.


8. The Warning

This documentary examines the aftermath of the economic meltdown during the 1990s.

It presents hypothetical scenarios on how things might have gone differently if we have had the benefit of hindsight.

The documentary examines the early warnings of the crash and takes a good long look into the Clinton administration and the battle that ensued amongst the high-profile members of his administration.

In addition, the documentary reveals that there was a concerted effort not to provide regulation on the derivatives market and how this eventually became a ticking time bomb ready to be set off in America’s economy.


9. The Corporation

The Corporation is a documentary that examines a unique detail that is included in the 14th amendment.

This amendment states that corporations are seen as individuals.

Therefore, based on this insight the filmmaker, Mark Achbar, poses the question of what kind of person would a corporation be?


10. We Feed the World

This documentary takes a hard and intense look at the world’s food production.

The various questions and insights that are reflected in this documentary include how the world’s food supply is produced, how the mass production of food affects the environment, and the lives of people.


11. The End of Poverty

This is an impactful documentary that represents the poor and gives voice to their concerns.

In comparison it reflects side-by-side what the poor are expressing against the talking representatives of economy, politics, writers, professors, and others who are lifted up as experts.

Significant statistics about the poor and the rich include:

  • The richest 1% of the world’s population own 32% of the wealth
  • More than one billion people live in the slums of the southern hemisphere
  • One third of the world’s population does not have access to clean water
  • 16,000 children die each day from hunger or hunger related diseases
  • An emphasis on cutting global poverty would roughly cost $20 billion which is less than 4% of the United States military budget


12. Enron The Smartest Guys in the Room

The Houston-based company that provided energy, Enron, declared bankruptcy in 2001.

This documentary reveals the foundation beginnings of this company and documents the “cracks” that began to appear and ultimately cause the crumbling of energy company that led to their financial ruin.

The documentary is comprised of documented facts and utilizes interviews from various journalists, capturing conversations from former employees, questions stock analysts, and previous Enron executives.


13. Inequality For All

This documentary captures a presentation presented by former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

The presentation was given at the University of California at Berkeley.

In this presentation the former Labor Secretary brings into focus the significant and destructive consequences that may continue to widen the gap between the rich and poor due to economic and social actions.

Also See: Top Money Movies on Netflix to Watch & Top Money Documentaries to Watch.

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14. The Take

This documentary showcases 30 Argentineans autoworkers that are unemployed.

The focus is on these individuals and their attempts to resurrect their dead careers.

As part of their strategy, they decide on starting a cooperative business and have no influence or dealings with bosses.

The struggle that they experience is to keep their dream alive and, in the process, battle previous owners of the company, the police and the Argentinean government.


15. Bitcoin: The End of Money As We Know It

This film (documentary) focuses on digital currencies.

In doing so it examines the very history of money and ongoing patterns of technological innovation on how to explain the current trend, and the controversial, crypto currency market.


16. The Price We Pay

The focus of this documentary is the financial impact that ongoing tax fraud of banks and large corporations has on the global economy.

As part of the film financial experts, system critics, and insiders explain what all of the processes are and the resulting implications.


17. Debt Machine

This documentary is a deep dive into the role of debt as it relates to Europe’s debt crisis that is spiraling out of control.

The reality is that many aspects of our modern life revolve around credit.

Those items include our homes, cars, government, schools, etc. are all financed through borrowing.

Ominously this debt machine has grown to epic proportions and seems to have spiraled out of control where public debt and debt held by governments is soaring

The questions posed by this documentary include

How can the debt be paid and how can we stop this downward spiraling?

Also See: Connection between God and Business Success.


18. True Cost

The focus of this film is on the creation of fast fashion.

Exploring the garment industry, the filmmakers look at the life of low-wage workers in underdeveloped countries and the effects of the garment industry not only on the people, but the nation itself as it relates to pollution, pesticide contamination, disease, and death.

The documentary utilizes a variety of interviews including environmentalists, and factory workers.

An additional focus of the fashion industry in impoverished countries addresses the issues of:

  • Consumerism
  • Mass media
  • Global capitalism


19. Pump

This documentary tackles the addiction of Americans to oil and the various uses of fossil fuel.

The documentary also tries to offer solutions as they look to possible fuel replacements that can be cleaner, cheaper, and manufactured in the United States.


20. Collapse

Michael Rupert is the focus point of this documentary and how he was able, as a retired police officer, to predict the Wall Street crash that occurred in 2008 many years before it actually happened.

The film also goes beyond that particular crash and offers a worldview of Rupert as he peers into the future and shares in the documentary what he envisions as continual economic disasters looming on the horizon.


21. Merchants of Doubt

This film delves into the role and power of public relations and how it can spin a narrative and convince others that the sky is not falling.

It begins with the classic case of the tobacco industry, in an effort to protect their business, indicated that there were no health risks from the habit of smoking.

The marketing ploy delayed government regulation and demonstrates the power of public relations.

Another example demonstrated in the film was the product of flame retardants and, however it may have performed as advertised, there were toxic effects that were secondary.

Ultimately, the film concludes with the concern about greenhouse gases and its effect on global climate change.


22. Capitalism

This documentary has six components to it broken down into six different episodes.

It is an unveiling of capitalism from the early starts attributed to Adam Smith right up to the effect of capitalism on natural events that can be disastrous such as floods, drought, and earthquakes.

This documentary is a significant series that addresses economics and showcases this discipline and provides a social, political, and historical backdrop.


23. Our Daily Bread

This film is unique in that there is no narration or voiceovers used.

It is simply a powerful display of the topic of food processing that simply uses images and sounds that often can be unsettling.

The various scenes include working farms, slaughterhouses, the way the food is processed, etc.

Ultimately, the producer of the film simply portrays the story pictorially and allows the viewer to draw their own conclusions.


24. Shadow World

By displaying archived news footage and interviews, the story or documentary unfolds demonstrating the shadow world of the global arms trade, corruption, lies, and the motivating force of greed which establishes relationships and undercover dealings between individuals of power.

These individuals of power include:

  • Politicians
  • Industry executives
  • Military and intelligence officials
  • Arms dealers


25. Let’s Make Money

This documentary is Austrian produced and was released in 2008.

It addresses particular aspects of the development of the global financial system relative to the rest of society and the world in general.

This exploitation is particularly evident in the developing world but is also present in Western nations.


Personal Story

One of the earliest documentaries that I can recall watching was when they went behind the scenes in a casino.

The documentary followed a couple of compulsive gamblers and the devastating effects that gambling had upon their lives personally and spilled over into their workplace, family, marriage, and sometimes created financial havoc as people lost everything that they had.

In addition, the documentary delved into the psychological effects utilized by the casino to completely engage the gambler.

For example, they talked about the lights of the slot machine and how it had almost a hypnotic effect on the gambler’s mind, the use of alcohol to numb the senses, and even little things that, such as not finding clocks in a casino.

The documentary was very revealing and conjured up all sorts of emotions such as anger, sympathy for these gamblers, and wonderment regarding the mind and addictive behaviors.




What is the Cost to Produce a Documentary?

Creating a documentary can be an expensive process.

The major expenses would be the time of the individuals involved, the length of the documentary, equipment used, editing process, etc.

Depending upon the length of the documentary the cost can range anywhere from $50,000-$400,000 for a feature-length documentary.


What Are the Most Popular Documentaries That Have Ever Been Produced?

According to Timeout the most popular documentaries ever produced are:

  • Shoah
  • Sans Soleil
  • The Thin Blue Line
  • Night and Fog
  • Harlan County U.S.A. (1976)


You Can Do It

There are a variety of financial documentaries available through various apps or online streaming services.

You could view a financial documentary and most likely will receive an education as the documentary reveals areas of a particular financial topic that you were not aware of.



Entertainment is an important part of our lives.

One of the primary ways that we are entertained is by going to movie theaters or staying at home and renting a movie.

Movies are powerful and can engage us in so many ways including making us laugh, cry, get angry, be horrified, etc.

Movies can also be informative, educational, and also stir us especially movies that are defined as documentaries.

Even in the broad category of documentary films can be specific subjects of which one is in the area of finances.

Typically, a documentary does not sugarcoat the subject but reveals the subject matter for what it is and therefore, when watching a finance documentary prepare yourself to be educated, challenged, perhaps become angry, and possibly stirred to action.

Again, this company has paid $25+ million to members:

SurveyJunkie (only USA, Canada, Australia residents allowed). You can earn money sharing your thoughts. They have already paid $25+ million to their 20+ million members just for sharing their thoughts and opinions. Click here to join SurveyJunkie for FREE

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Apart from being a seasoned Personal Finance expert who has written for top publications around the world, I bring significant personal financial experience. Long story short... through bad financial choices... I found myself $100,000 plus in debt. I was able to dissolve this indebtedness and regain financial solvency. This financial turn around was accomplished through reading, studying and implementing a financial plan. My financial plan included paying down my debt through budgeting, being cognizant of where my financial resources were being spent, changing my attitude about money and understanding the binding chains of the improper use of credit. Today, and for 10 years, I have been debt free and have invested wisely to enjoy my current retirement. This is allowing me to write to help others make, save and grow money wisely!