Margin Call (2011) proved to be interesting film in featuring an investment bank using deplorable tactics to avoid becoming bankrupt after realising that the computerised formula which governed their buying and selling options is fundamentally floored. The action starts when the firm is reducing its staff having contracted the task to a human resource agency that arrives, calls in the selected employee, offers them a no alternative severance package and then escorts them from the building. This applies to the long serving risk senior manager who happened to work out that the firm is at great risk from his computerised programme of mixed loan swaps which includes high, medium and low risk deal packages.
Before leaving the building he passed a USB storage device with the programme he has been working on to a member of the trading floor. The employee spends he evening using his mathematical knowledge to complete the analysis and realise that unless he firm is able to close its position on the trades undertaken, the high leverage in terms of potential exposure to assets could break the firm. The young man immediately contacts his manager who in turn contacts the head of the trading floor played by Kevin Spacey. He contacts senior executives including the executive Director of Risk Management and the head of the trading division and after they appreciate the accuracy and nature of the threat they contact the Chief Executive Officer who is played by Jeremy Irons.
The solution is persuade Spacey and the key staff present to agree to off load the trades at limited losses without taking on others, but enabling the firm/the bank /group to continue to function without going under. They also need the sacked manager who had the respect of the traders to return and remain incognito during the deception. Even the junior traders are promised at least a million dollar payout severance if they are successful on the understanding that they are unlikely to be allowed to trade again. While the traders attempt to achieve the required 93% sell off, Roberston, the Chief Risk manager played by Demi Moore who admits with others to have understood they gamble that had been taken is offered a major severance package as the scapegoat for the fiasco. Dale the man who was working on the programme is kept out of contact with anyone outside the firm with an additional multi million bonus. Even though they achieve the target it is all too much for Spacey who after an earlier split with his wife and had the family dog for company, has been spending $1000 dollars a day in providing care for the animal who has cancer and who is told the creature is beyond treatment. He goes into the executive dining room to resign directly to Jeremy Irons who explains that they have survived previous crashes and bear markets, bribing him to remain for another two years during which time they will rebuild after cutting back even further than before. Among those who survive is the young man who discovered what was happening and has been promoted into the Executive dining room.
The film ends with Spacey witnessing his dog being put sleep and then digging a grave in the front lawn of the family home in the middle of night to the initial puzzlement of his former wife.