Thursday, April 11, 2019

In Money We Trust - A Documentary on Money Basics

An excellent documentary on money and monetary system basics has been released for global distribution by PBS. The title of the documentary is "In Money We Trust?". Readers may think of it as a followup to our earlier article on Money Basics.

The video features a diverse group of experts who walk us through the history of our money in an easy to understand format. Below I have pasted in the introduction text for the video and a direct link to watch it. Following that are some added comments.


In Money We Trust ?

"In Money We Trust? asks & answers the question, “what is money” and explains how money provides a shared measure of value that facilitates trade and cooperation between strangers. Throughout history, trustworthy money has fueled human achievement from the emergence of philosophy to the high-tech revolution. Featured guests: Alan Greenspan, Paul Volcker, Adam Fergusson, Steve Forbes." (note: Dr. Judy Shelton who we have featured here on this blog is also featured in this documentary)

My added comments: 

So why is this important?

If you will take an hour to watch the video linked above, I think it will become obvious why this information is important for all of us to understand. Money has a long history and has been used to do much good and to do much bad. The power to control money and the monetary system people use has been sought after for centuries and still is today. 

Please note as you watch this video how that what happens to money can lead to all kinds of human suffering when poor choices are made. The role of the devaluation of the German currency contributing to the rise of the Nazi regime is a particularly stark example from history mentioned in this documentary (starts just after the 18 minute mark).

When things are normal and the value of money is reasonably stable, the potential for very bad things to happen is reduced. History shows us clearly that when the monetary system fails and the the money used by the general public is substantially devalued, the potential for major social unrest and even major wars increases. Obviously, it's important to understand what causes people to lose trust in the money they use and what solutions might best restore order.

When things go bad financially, the first thing that happens is that people look for someone or something to blame for the crisis. This documentary points that out very well as we have done here many times. 

If the people do not understand what is happening and why during a time of major crisis, they may be led to place blame in the wrong direction by various politically motivated voices. This poor choice (placing blame in the wrong direction) then may lead to major unnecessary (but very real) human suffering if the wrong solutions are adopted to "solve the crisis".

The goal here is to try and emphasize that these issues are important to all of us and can directly impact our daily lives. History shows us that nothing stays stable forever in regards to money and monetary systems. The view here is that the better we understand these issues, the better off we will be when the next inevitable major crisis does arrive. The younger you are, the more likely you are to see the next one. But it's important for all of us to understand as much we can.

Here is the 2 minute "In Money We Trust" video trailer

Added note: Following this article later this month will be one featuring a recent update on where things stand with central bank digital currencies. Are they a form of future money? Not yet apparently based on this latest update.

Additional added note: For those who might want to do a deeper dive into some monetary history, this paper may be worth your time to read. One of the authors of this paper is an economist that I get input from now and then.

Added note 5-21-2019: John Stossel features and reviews this same documentary here on Reason

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