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Mad Money

February 4, 2008

Tags The EntrepreneurThe FedMedia and Culture

Even at matinee prices, going to the movies requires plenty of mad money. The two tickets were fifteen depreciating dollars, and a tub of popcorn, a bottle of water and a package of licorice came to another fifteen. But for a movie about money: well, it's only money.

With the Fed Chair Ben Bernanke hitting the panic button and lowering rates by 1.25% in less than a week's time and the M-3 money supply growing at 15 percent, the timing of Mad Money couldn't have been more perfect. Even CNBC's manic nut case Jim Cramer, host of a daily TV show of the same name makes an appearance, albeit a strange one – are movie goers actually to believe that two black kids in a Kansas City ghetto are watching Cramer ranting on the Mad Money TV show about some white-collar crime? At which point their mother Nina (Queen Latifah) scolds them that they will never pursue a life of crime (even though she is about to engage in what some might consider a criminal enterprise)?

Nina teams up with society housewife – gone broke and back to work – Bridget Cardigan (Diane Keaton) and trailer trash space cadet Jackie (Katie Holmes) to rob the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. Of course it's not like this eclectic threesome actually takes someone's hard-earned savings. Bridget, who takes a janitor position after her husband Don (Ted Danson) has been corporately downsized out of a job, masterminds a scheme to take worn out Federal Reserve notes that are to be destroyed.

Of course the Fed's constant monetary fiddling and inflationary ways creates the very instability that leads to corporate upsizing and in turn downsizing, the forcing of families to have two people working to make ends meet, the creation of an economy where no one has long-term financial security, and the encouragement of speculation in financial markets. I'm not sure director Callie Khouri or screenwriter, Glen Gers, realize that. If they did, their movie is much more clever than most realize.

Stephen Root's portrayal of Glover, the guy in charge at the KC Fed, is perfect. To the very end Glover deems it impossible that anyone could take anything out of his airtight facility. Just as the Federal Reserve policy board arrogantly and ignorantly believes they can steer the economy to new heights, soft landings and smooth rides with their monetary tinkering.

When Don discovers Bridget's caper and that she intends to continue it, he blurts out concerns for the nations monetary system, not buying into Bridget's explanation that the money is being destroyed anyway, and that even after they spend it, the bills will be shredded. "We're stealing the same money over and over again. In fact, we're not stealing anything." Besides, after cleaning their toilets, Bridget doesn't share her husband's reverence for the central bankers.

Taking the counterfeiters money is not wrong, but when the women started spending the money, as Lew Rockwell points out, that's "another matter, of course, as it imitates on a tiny scale what the Fed does, and dilutes the value of other people's money."

Heroically, Mad Money portrays the higher-ups at the KC Fed as pompous and clueless, while normal entrepreneur Junior (Mathew Greer), owner of Junior's Blues BBQ joint where the three ladies meet to hatch their plans over Budweiser and peanuts, is the sharpest guy in the movie.

It's about time us hard-money folks had an anti-Federal Reserve movie to enjoy. I'm with Lew, "May this be only the first of a string of anti-Fed movies."


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