Opening 30 Oct 2008
Austrian director Erwin Wagenhofer inadvertently had terrific PR for his film about unreliable, shaky, borderline legal uses of our money, namely, the world’s worst financial crisis in at least 80 years, with perhaps more bad news on its way. Let’s Make Money tells us where our money might be and why investments are crashing all around us. Wagenhofer interviews Dr. Mark Mobius, president of Templeton Emerging Markets in Singapore (“Buy when there is blood on the streets, even when it is your own.”); John Christensen, an economist on the island of Jersey; and John Perkins, a former economic hit man in Florida. They, and many of their colleagues, speak freely about unrestricted bank investments which go from your account to a tax paradise (Jersey, Guernsey, Virgin Islands) to superfluous luxury apartments on the coast of Spain. And you thought your savings were safe and sound in the little neighborhood Sparkasse. The comments were amazing, but even more astonishing was that Wagenhofer got these important people in front of a camera. Did they realize what they were doing?
The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and even the United Nations do not emerge unscathed. According to Wagenhofer, they lend money to poor countries which in turn allow companies to invest. The money bypasses the countries and goes straight to the companies for their investments. The poor people of the country are billed, but they can hardly pay the interest much less the principle. They offer their natural resources (gold from Ghana, cotton from Burkino Faso) at dumping prices. In 1971 the US went off the gold standard and created the oil standard. As a result, all oil must be paid in dollars. An economic hit man influences a leader of a third-world country rich in natural resources. They try to obtain his cooperation in milking the country dry. If the leader can not be coerced, the “jackals” arrive to assassinate him. If that misfires, the country is invaded. Saddam Hussein is a good example; he resisted cooperation and assignation and was on his way to ignoring the dollar-standard for payment of oil. The US invaded Iraq. Although full of facts, this excellent film is not dry or boring. I highly recommend it, if you still have any cash for the price of a ticket. It’s a good investment. Chinese language lessons suddenly seem like a good investment, too. (Becky Tan)