Fear the Fed with Money for Nothing 


Over at the cineplexes, blood gushes everywhere as horror films enjoy their good run. But what you should legitimately fear is screening for only two nights at your local arthouse.

Save the special effects: All that Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve needs to poison your sleep is the true story of America's central banking system and the current state of our financial (non)well-being.

Meet the Fed: conceived in secret (cue Jekyll Island conspiracists), lording over every boom-and-bust cycle of the past century, and holding all the power to make or break us still, as Money for Nothing tells it. Or, more literally, as an army of old white guys (and a couple women) tell it for a surprisingly engaging 100 minutes.

Aside from some overused B-roll such as shots of the big bank's commanding boardroom table, Frankenstein footage and Jenga towers crashing down for clichéd, clunky symbolism, Money's slick and a great crash course for the common person prone to spacing out over talk of quantitative easing.

Narrator Liev Schreiber lends familiar pipes to the play-by-play, written, directed and produced by Jim Bruce (Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars), who financed most of the film via his own post-financial-crisis stock-market short-trading. As constructed via the multitude of ex-Fed board members' and economists' opinions, the film adeptly weaves through the necessary history to paint a picture of the organization that's gifted us "the collective delusion that all is well."

Truly, what's scarier, on an innate survival level, than understanding that there's nothing bolstering our dollar but goodwill and the international community's faith, that "the real currency of the world is trust"?

A limited few come off as heroes in Money, such as Carter Administration Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who braved unpopularity to raise rates and stabilize his day's economy. But subsequent chairmen Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke are depicted more as hubris-bloated gods run amok. They have failed to learn from the past; didn't and don't have the guts to create "short-term pain for long-term gain"; set dangerous and destructive precedents (bailouts rewarding and encouraging risk and bad behssavior); failed to regulate; and ushered in this diseased era of "consumption as the engine of growth."

Political affiliations aside, watch Money and you'll further appreciate the morbid hilarity of seeing (not in Money, but online) Ron Paul wave "rebel silver" from the animated anti-Fed film Silver Circle at Bernanke during a House Financial Services Committee meeting. And though Money drives home the brutal reality that we're gearing up to crumble again — from currency insolvency, the trade deficit, our $17 trillion national debt, etc. — it tries hard, like many social-justice documentaries, to conclude on a positive note.

But do you think people will ever curb materialism and "learn to be happy with what we have"? And as the conspiracists have pondered all along, has the Fed ever had your best interest at heart over that of Wall Street and the richest 1 percent?



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