In 2008 Wall Street brought the economy to the brink of collapse with a shell game based on bankrupt mortgages...Nine years later, the stock market is sky high again. The game has gone global, and the stakes are even higher.
THE CHINA HUSTLE begins in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis when we meet Dan David and a band of Wall Street outsiders. Detective-like investors working on the fringes of the financial world, they scour global markets for new opportunities. With the West in a tailspin, they turn to China, to what seems like a new gold rush. Chinese stock market indexes are doubling every year and the potential seems boundless.
There’s one problem, though: US investors can’t participate because they’re barred from investing directly in Chinese markets. But this is America, and we always find a way. A few Wall Street operators create a novel solution by bringing hundreds of promising Chinese companies directly to U.S. stock markets. All of the sudden, middle America can get in on the Chinese miracle, without leaving the comforting confines of the NYSE and the NASDAQ.
It all seems to be going well, until Dan and our band of outsiders discover that most of the companies they’re investing in are frauds, producing phony balance sheets, claiming phony inventories, and celebrating non-existent profits. They flip their strategy on its head and begin to master the dark art of short selling—essentially, betting that a company will fail. With the help of a team of Chinese researchers who risk their freedom to uncover the truth behind these Potemkin factories, they discover the frauds and bet against them in the market. But even as they crush these frauds, they warn of bigger, harder-to-catch behemoths coming down the pipe—including, they fear, the single biggest IPO ever on a US market.
There are no good guys in this story. But there are a few people—our short-selling band of outsiders —who are sick of a financial system built on lies. THE CHINA HUSTLE follows their story through Wall Street, China and your retirement savings to uncover the biggest heist you’ve never heard of, and to challenge all of us to wake up and demand accountability and transparency in our markets before it’s too late.Directed by: Jed Rothstein
Written by: Jed Rothstein
Produced by: Sarah Gibson and Ryan Suffern