Call it a harbinger of doom or a necessary wake-up call, but Carmen Lossman’s ingeniously disturbing journey into the dark heart of economic and monetary illusion is a must-see for anyone grappling with the sheer madness of life today.
Economic growth has become the Holy Cow of late post-industrial capitalism, where – to mix metaphors – the elephant in the room is the way money is created literally out of thin air by a few computer strokes of double-entry book-keeping when a bank advances a loan to a customer on which it expects to make a profit.
Lossman’s genius in Oeconomia is to pin down in simplified, relatively easily understood statements, the sheer madness of system built on the notion of infinite exponential economic growth in a world of finite natural resources.
It’s a challenging subject to bring to life visually, but Lossman manages to build an impelling argument built around computerised diagrams and interviews with masters of the financial universe that include the chief economist at the European Central Bank, Peter Praet, and leading financial executives at, among others, a German luxury car firm and a bond trading company that manages assets worth trillions of dollars.
Lossman establishes the intimate link between credit and debt; the way in which profit is created; and the political power wielded by private finance that demands profit from increasingly indebted countries.
The secretive nature of so many within this world of smoke and mirrors is reflected in the number of closed doors institutions show Lossman. She gets around refusals to talk on camera by having actors voice transcripts of her – at times – bizarre calls with people who surely should be able to answer simple questions such as «where does profit come from?»
When Praet admits on camera that the bank simply creates money electronically – using the analogy of «printing money» – an off-camera press flunky tries to protest. When he offers his own interpretation of what is sometimes called «quantitative easing» – Praet bats him away, telling him he is talking nonsense. It is a victory for the filmmaker, where the gatekeepers of powerful financial …
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