Tag Archives: Movies

Capital in the 21st Century – film documentary

Yesterday Kim Hill of Radio NZ interviewed New Zealand film director Justin Pemberton about his latest film documentary – Capital in the Twenty-First Century. It is based on the best-selling book of the same name by acclaimed French economist Thomas Piketty. You can listen to the interview here.

The film looks at the French Revolution, two world wars and the impact of technology. It exposes fraud and growing inequalities instead of the assumption that the accumulation of capital benefits all. It features some leading writers and thinkers – Gillian Tett, Rana Foroohar, Paul Mason, Joseph Stiglitz, Maiza Shaheen. Below is the official trailer. Well worth a look.

Death star to debt star – crashing the galactic economy

Picked up this great interview from a colleague which talks about the destruction of the Death Star being an Imperial trap to financially bankrupt the Rebel Alliance?

Assistant professor of Washington University of St. Louis, Zachary Feinstein wrote a paper entitled ‘It’s a Trap: Emperor Palpatine’s Poison Pill’ which discuss the fundamental connections between the destruction of the Star Wars ‘death stars’ and the crashing economy.

Feinstein suggests that Emperor Palpatine planned that if defeated during the “battle of valdor” in episode 6, there would be economic repercussions on such a scale that the “rebels” would never be able to take power. Furthermore, with no galactic central bank the Stars Wars universe wouldn’t be able to deal with debt. He calculates the cost of construction of each “death star”:

Death Star 1 – 140 km in diameter and valued at US$193 quintrillion
Death Star 2 – 900 km in diameter and valued at US$419 quintrillion

Below is the conclusion from the paper.

We modeled the state of the economy of the Galactic Empire prior to the destruction of the two moon-sized battle stations and the fall of the Imperial government. This allowed us to calibrate a financial network of the systemically important institutions, thus providing a picture of the economic repercussions from the Battle of Endor. In this case study we found that the Rebel Alliance would need to prepare a bailout of at least 15%, and likely at least 20%, of GGP in order to mitigate the systemic risks and the sudden and catastrophic economic collapse. Without such funds at the ready, it likely the Galactic economy would enter an economic depression of astronomical proportions

The Big Short – movie

Most Americans probably hadn’t heard the phrase “mortgage-backed securities” until around 2008, when the subprime-mortgage crisis erupted and sent the U.S. financial system into chaos. But what exactly happened? That’s the central question of the film The Big Short an adaptation of Michael Lewis’s 2010 book about a handful of Wall Streeters who uncovered the underlying problems in the mortgage market and bet against (or shorted) the securities made up of subprime debt before all hell broke loose. These underdogs become the winners of the financial crisis. Kind of.

Source: The Atlantic

The movie has had great reviews and well worth going to. Below is the Jenga clip in which they talk about the collapse of the US housing market and credit default swaps.

Movie to watch – “Margin Call’

Here is a trailer of the popular movie “Margin Call”. The film takes place over a 36-hour period at a large investment bank (loosely modeled on Lehman Brothers) and focuses on the financial crisis of 2007–2008.The film follows the actions taken by a group of employees during the financial collapse. A couple of great one-liners:

“There are 8 trillion dollars worth of paper around the world relying on that equation”

“You’re selling something that you know has no value”

“There are three ways to make a living in this business: be first, be smarter, or cheat”

Developing economies – barriers to trade

In teaching my AS level class Unit 4 -Trade – of the CIE course I have often used the Black Gold DVD which shows some good examples of barriers to trade. The part of the DVD that is particularly relevant is at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks in Cancun, Mexico in 2003.

In countries such as Ethiopia, small coffee producers have suffered as a result of the WTO. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, established to facilitate global trade and regulate an international monetary system, have privatised public businesses and removed restrictions on foreign ownership in many developing countries who sign the IMF agreements in order to prevent default on international loans. Black Gold – The Economics of Coffee

Furthermore, as the farming sector in developed countries continues to get government subsidies – $300bn pre year – the IMF insisted that those developing countries receiving IMF aid had to stop any assistance to their own farmers. One wonders how these countries are going to achieve any sort of growth as subsidies wipes out the ability of developing countries competing on the international market. At the WTO in Cancun, ministers from across Africa packed out the conference centre calling for an end to subsidies. As Sam Mpsau the Minister of Commerce and Industry in Malawi stated:

“we would like the world trading system to be able to help us stand on our own two feet. Trade is more important to us than aid. We cannot live on aid forever”.

A 1% increase in the continent’s share of world trade would in itself generate $70 billion per year – five times more than what the continent now receives in aid.

Below is a trailer to the movie. Well worth getting.

New Documentary Movie – ‘Inside Job’

I came across a review of the “Inside Job” in the New Yorker magazine. It is billed as a comprehensive account of the financial crisis and seen as a cross between Fahrenheit 9/11 and a History Channel primer, with a dash of indignation. Below is a review from The Dim Post

Instead of being a reporter or Michael Moore style muckraking provocateur documentary maker Charles Ferguson is very much a part of the world his film is about. This gives him access to interview subjects other documentary makers could only dream of: central bankers, hedge fund multi-billionaires, senior economists, finance lobbyists, former investment bank CEOs, Wall Street prostitutes, the Prime Minister of Singapore . . . For a movie about economics and finance it’s a surprisingly funny movie but most of the humor is laughter in the dark: Ferguson’s interview subjects try to spin their own moral complicity and moral bankruptcy and he skewers them expertly. It’s a brilliant film.