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James Schamus on Why Money is not “Money”

Producer and screenwriter James Schamus hardly needs another skill set to add to his CV, but let’s go ahead anyway and add “economic commentator” following the premiere of his engaging, witty and nicely analytical two-part, “That Film About Money,” for the 20-episode We the Economy series. Premiering this week online, We the Economy is a collaboration between Paul Allen’s Vulcan Productions and Morgan Spurlock’s Cinelan. (Disclosure: I’m on the Advisory Board of Cinelan.) The series features filmmakers — both documentarians and fiction directors — tackling, in bite-size form, questions surrounding the workings of our global economy and financial markets.

For Schamus’s pieces, which also, I believe, rep his directorial debuts, Schamus delves into the fractional reserve banking system and, by extension, the “money multiplier” effect. Do you think a dollar bill is just a dollar bill, and that when you deposit it, it just sits in the bank’s vault? Well, no, you probably don’t… but you most likely haven’t considered how far bank assets are stretched and the cultural kabuki required to create not just more money but also belief in the whole underlying system.

Watch part one above and part two below.

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