Margin Call (film)

2011 film directed by J. C. Chandor
(Redirected from Margin Call)

Margin Call is a 2011 film that follows the key people at an investment bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the 2008 financial crisis.

Written and directed by J.C. Chandor.
Be first. Be smarter. Or cheat.

Will Emerson

  • You know, the feeling that people experience when they stand on the edge like this isn't the fear of falling—it's the fear that they might jump.
  • Hey, Eric? Don't beat yourself too much about this stuff, all right? Some people like taking the long way home. Who the fuck knows?
  • [Telling Seth he's likely going to be laid off] Listen, nothing I'm gonna say is going to make you feel any better. It's just going to suck for a while, and then you'll be fine.

John Tuld

"1637, 1797, 1819, 37, 57, 84, 1901, 07, 29, 1937, 1974, 198792, 97, 2000 and whatever we want to call this."
  • Please, speak as you might to a young child or a Golden Retriever. It wasn't brains that got me here, I can assure you that.
  • There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat.
  • So you think we might have put a few people out of business today. That it's all for naught. You've been doing that every day for almost forty years, Sam. And if this is all for naught, then so is everything out there. [points to the skyline of New York City] It's just money; it's made up. Pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don't have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It's not wrong. And it's certainly no different today than it's ever been. 1637, 1797, 1819, 37, 57, 84, 1901, 07, 29, 1937, 1974, 1987—Jesus, didn't that fucker fuck me up good—92, 97, 2000 and whatever we want to call this. It's all just the same thing over and over; we can't help ourselves. And you and I can't control it or stop it, or even slow it, or even ever-so-slightly alter it. We just react. And we make a lot of money if we get it right. And we get left by the side of the road if we get it wrong. And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers, happy fuckers and sad suckers, fat cats and starving dogs in this world. Yeah, there may be more of us today than there's ever been, but the percentages—they stay exactly the same.

Sam Rogers

  • Remember this day, boys. Remember this day.
  • Thank you all for coming in a little early this morning. I know yesterday was pretty bad, and I wish I could say that today is going to be less so, but that isn't going to be the case. Now, I'm supposed to read this statement to you all here, but why don't you just read it on your own time, and I'll just tell you what the fuck is going on here. I've been here all night, meeting with the Executive Committee, and the decision has been made to unwind a considerable position of the firm's holdings in several key asset classes. The crux of it is, in the firm's thinking, the party's over as of this morning. There's going to be considerable turmoil in markets for the foreseeable future, and they believe it is better that this turmoil begins with us. As a result, the firm has decided to liquidate its majority position of fixed-income MBS … today. These are your packets; you will see what accounts you're responsible for today. I'm sure it hasn't taken you long to understand the implications of this sale on your relationships with your counterparties and, as a result, on your careers. I have expressed this reality to the Executive Committee, and they understand. As a result, if you achieve a 93% sale of your assets, you will receive a $1.4 million one-off bonus. If the floor, as a whole, achieves a 93% sale, you will get an additional $1.3 million apiece. For those of you who have never been through this before, this is what the beginning of a fire sale looks like. I cannot begin to tell you how important the first hour and a half is going to be. I want you to hit every bite you can find: dealers, brokers, clients, your mother if she's buying. And no swaps; it's outgoing only, today. Obviously, this is not going down the way that any of us would have hoped, but … the ground is shifting below our feet. And, apparently, there's no other way out.

Peter Sullivan

  • Look at these people. Wandering around with absolutely no idea what's about to happen.

Eric Dale

  • I run Risk Management. I don't really see how that's a natural place to start cutting jobs.


Will Emerson: Jesus, Seth. Listen, if you really wanna do this with your life, you have to believe you're necessary, and you are. People wanna live like this with their cars and big fuckin' houses they can't even pay for, then you're necessary. The only reason that they all get to continue living like kings is because we got our fingers on the scales in their favor. I take my hand off, and then the whole world gets really fuckin' fair really fuckin' quickly, and nobody actually wants that. They say they do, but they don't. They want what we have to give them, but they also wanna, you know, play innocent and pretend they have no idea where it came from. Well, that's more hypocrisy than I'm willing to swallow, so fuck 'em. Fuck normal people. You know, the funny thing is, tomorrow if all of this goes tits up, they're gonna crucify us for being too reckless, but if we're wrong, and everything gets back on track? Well, then, the same people are gonna laugh till they piss their pants, 'cause we're gonna all look like the biggest pussies God ever let through the door.
Seth Bregman: You think we're wrong?
Will Emerson: … No. They're all fucked.

Sarah Robertson: But is this your draft?
Peter Sullivan: Yes. Again, expanded on the original work by Mr. Dale. But, yes.
Sarah Robertson: What's your background?
Peter Sullivan: My background?
Sarah Robertson: Your CV.
Peter Sullivan: I've been with the firm for two and a half years, working with Eric that whole time. But I hold a doctorate in engineering, specialty in propulsion, from MIT, with a bachelor's from Penn.
Jared Cohen: What is a specialty in propulsion, exactly?
Peter Sullivan: My thesis was studying the ways that friction ratios affect steering outcomes in aeronautical use under reduced gravity loads.
Jared Cohen: So, you're a rocket scientist?
Peter Sullivan: I was. Yeah.
Jared Cohen: Interesting. How did you end up here?
Peter Sullivan: Well, it's all just numbers, really. Just changing what you're adding up, and, to speak freely, the money here is considerably more attractive.

Peter Sullivan: Will? Did you really make two and a half million last year?
Will Emerson: Yeah, sure.
Peter Sullivan: How did you spend it all?
Will Emerson: It goes quite quickly. You know, you learn to spend what's in your pocket.
Seth Bregman: Two and a half million goes quickly?
Will Emerson: All right, let's see. So the taxman takes half up front, so you're left with one and a quarter. My mortgage takes another 300 grand. I send 150 home for my parents, you know, keep them going. So what's that?
Peter Sullivan: 800.
Will Emerson: All right, 800. Spent 150 on a car. About 75 on restaurants. Probably 50 on clothes. I put 400 away for a rainy day.
Seth Bregman: That's smart.
Will Emerson: Yeah, as it turns out, 'cause it looks like the storm's coming.
Peter Sullivan: You still got 125.
Will Emerson: Yeah, well, I did spend $76,520 on hookers, booze, and dancers. But mainly hookers.
Peter Sullivan: 76.5?
Will Emerson: I was a little shocked initially, but then I realized that I could claim most of it back as entertainment. It's true.

Sam Rogers: The real question is: who are we selling this to?
John Tuld: The same people we've been selling it to for the last two years, and whoever else would buy it.
Sam Rogers: But John, if you do this, you will kill the market for years. It's over.
[John nods grimly]
Sam Rogers: And you're selling something that you know has no value.
John Tuld: We are selling to willing buyers at the current fair market price.
[Sam lowers his gaze]
John Tuld: So that we may survive.
Sam Rogers: You will never sell anything to any of those people ever again.
John Tuld: I understand.
Sam Rogers: Do you?
John Tuld: Do you? [pounding on the desk] This is it! I'm telling you: this is it!

John Tuld: Since when you have you gotten so soft?
Sam Rogers: Fuck you, soft. You're panicking.
John Tuld: If you're first out the door, that's not called panicking.

John Tuld: Sam, I don't think you seem to understand what your boy here has just said. If I made you, how would you do this?
Sam Rogers: Well, you call the traders in for their normal meet, because they're going to know it's the end either way. You're going to have to throw them a bone, and a pretty big one. And then you've got to come out of the gates storming. No swaps, no nothing.
John Tuld: So, you're telling me that all your trades have to be gone by lunchtime, huh?

Peter Sullivan: Are you sure it's the only or the right thing to do?
Sam Rogers: For whom?
Peter Sullivan: I'm not sure.
Sam Rogers: Neither am I.

John Tuld: So, what you're telling me is that the music is about to stop, and we're going to be left holding the biggest bag of odorous excrement ever assembled in the history of … capitalism.
Peter Sullivan: Sir, I'm not sure that I would put it that way. But let me clarify: using your analogy, what this model shows is the music, so to speak, just slowing. If the music were to stop, as you put it, then this model wouldn't be even close to that scenario. It would be considerably worse.
John Tuld: Let me tell you something, Mr. Sullivan. Do you care to know why I'm in this chair with you all? I mean, why I earn the big bucks?
Peter Sullivan: Yes.
John Tuld: I'm here for one reason and one reason alone. I'm here to guess what the music might do a week, a month, a year from now. That's it. Nothing more. And standing here tonight, I'm afraid that I don't hear—a—thing. Just … silence.


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