“There are no good guys in this story, including me.” This disclaimer is made early on by one Dan David — who is, if not the good guy of Jed Rothstein’s documentary The China Hustle, then certainly its most fascinating figure. The movie looks back on what can be best described as a subplot of the Global Financial Apocalypse of 2008: a “reverse merger,” the details of which are not as important as the fact that it allowed American investors to circumvent the prohibition against investing directly into the Chinese market.
That’s when things started getting hairy, since if a Chinese company releases false information about its financial report in the U.S. market, Chinese domestic regulatory authorities have no power to punish them, and nothing attracts Americans like lack of regulation. His protestations aside, CIO of FG Alpha Management and VP/cofounder of GeoInvesting Dan David emerges as the closest thing The China Hustle has to a hero, setting out as he does to sound the alarm — and he does it in the most adorably Gen-X way, including wearing a backpack to a Senate hearing. If the world of high finance is, by definition, bad people doing bad things, we’re largely powerless to stop it, but David may yet be the hero we need.