We recently got caught up with “The Card Game,” a new Frontline documentary about how the credit card industry has changed over the past year – and how those changes have affected consumers.
The documentary, which was a joint project with The New York Times, comes five years after Frontline and The Times first explored the “Secret History of the Credit Card.” And like the earlier documentary, “The Card Game” features a wide array of industry veterans and policymakers who defend, explain, or castigate the card industry – interspersed with stories of consumers who have felt the effects of some industry practices.
The talking heads include Elizabeth Warren, Timothy Geithner, Christopher Dodd, and Nessa Feddis – and, in what Frontline called the first interview he has given about Providian since he resigned in 2001, former CEO Shailesh Mehta.
“You make the stupid laws, I'll comply and I'll make money,” is how Mehta characterizes the credit card industry’s mindset about regulation. “There are always some desperate people who will take the product. Lending money to people is never a difficult exercise.”
While the documentary does not necessarily break new ground, it provides a comprehensive and clear overview of how the recession and regulation have changed the industry, and how the industry has passed the effects of those changes on to customers.
And Mehta’s interview – conducted on the grounds of his estate modeled after the White House – has already provided fodder for consumer advocacy groups like the Center for Responsible Lending, which quoted him in its new report Thursday on “Dodging Reform: As Some Credit Card Abuses Are Outlawed, New Ones Proliferate.”
“The Card Game,” which originally during Thanksgiving week, can be viewed at Frontline’s web site, along with additional information and extended interviews.