A New Fed Flick

The Federal Reserve is the 800-pound gorilla when it comes to factors affecting the economy and the capital markets. That’s generally understood, if not routinely respected. Yet this goliath remains a mysterious entity for most Americans. A new film attempts to peel away some of the inscrutability with what is ultimately a fascinating story of the power, glory, and failures of the Fed. Money For Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve is a self-proclaimed “independent, non-partisan documentary film that examines America’s central bank from the inside out–in a critical yet balanced way,” according to the movie’s website.

Produced by several acclaimed filmmakers, this soon-to-be-released documentary takes us on an intriguing tour of the banker’s bank. Depending on your perspective, the Fed is either a savior or the enemy in the pursuit of a well-functioning economy. But no matter your view, this central bank is too big to ignore. I, for one, am eager to see what this investigative documentary will reveal.
When the filmmakers contacted me recently to ask for a promotional plug, I initially balked. But after looking at the trailer, I’m persuaded that Money For Nothing has the potential to be an important contribution to the public’s understanding and awareness of the most-important institution that’s way off the radar for the average citizen. It doesn’t hurt that it all unfolds with a bit of dramatic flair. This is a movie, after all. Although I haven’t seen the complete film yet, it’s on my short list when it opens in theaters and/or released on DVD. I’ll be looking for insights into a number of aspects of Fed policy, including: How has the definition of the central bank’s “independence” changed or is likely to change going forward. As Allan Meltzer reminds in volume 2 of A History of the Federal Reserve his sweeping history of what is arguably (still) the single-most important financial institution on the planet:

The Federal Reserve is said to be an independent central bank. The meaning of independence changed several times [through the course of its history].

Has it changed recently? Is it likely to change in the near-term future? What are the implications?
Talk, of course, is cheap when it comes to films, and so it’s time to take a peek at the coming attractions….