The economy is heading for the rocks, big time. After 1 October 2015, a sovereign debt crisis will occur, heralding a period of global upheaval to rival the era of the French Revolution. According, that is, to financial forecaster Martin Armstrong. Should we take this prediction seriously? Well, so far Armstrong's predictions have been startlingly accurate.
He predicted both the stock market crash of '87 and the record recovery of '89, for example – pretty much to the day. Then, in 1999, the FBI raided his offices, he was arrested on charges of running a Ponzi scheme and jailed for 7 years without trial. "I was making three films about the financial crisis back then", director Marcus Vetter (pictured on the right) says of the genesis of The Forecaster, his portrayal of Armstrong that world premieres in IDFA's feature-length competition.
"I wanted to interview Martin Armstrong for one of these in 2000. But then he was imprisoned. Some years later, I began to read his blogs. I tried to interview him in prison in 2008, but I couldn't get access. When he came out, I went to attend a seminar he was holding, saw all these people attending from all over the world and thought, this is a subject for a film in itself."
The Forecaster is much more than a portrait of Armstrong, however. "Basically, the film is about the debt," Vetter says. "Nobody understands this – how can it be that normal people can't continue in debt but governments can? Martin Armstrong had the answer. Governments just don't care. With the film, I want to provoke a discussion about this – how governments are just indebting themselves and passing it all on to the next generations."
So how reliable are Armstrong's predictions – for example about the impending crash in 2015? "The fact that he was in prison means everyone has some doubts about him," the director says. "He was a billionaire and the government accused him of running a Ponzi scheme. People think he must have done something wrong. But I actually read 2,000 pages of court transcripts – everything – and I saw what happened. It's very clear that he was a victim and not a perpetrator. The government basically accused him of what they are doing."
Photo: Felix Kalkman