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The Austrian Business Cycle Theory in a Major Motion Picture


The new film Margin Call is a tale of a Lehman-like collapse and a Goldman Sachs-like crony return that is the first to even try to explain the Austrian Business Cycle Theory in a major studio film even though they do miss the cause of these fluctuations that is the Federal Reserve, central banks, and the the fiat currencies that cause these bubbles, panics, booms, manias, and busts.

The head of the investment bank during the height of the financial crisis tries to justify his existence and his actions mixing a little Austrian Business Cycle Theory as well as Helmet Schoeck’s theory of envy and social behavior as well as an equilibrium hypothesis:

‎”So you think we might have put a few people out of business today. That its all for naught. You’ve been doing that everyday for almost forty years Sam. And if this is all for naught then so is everything out there. Its just money; its made up. Pieces of paper with pictures on it so we don’t have to kill each other just to get something to eat. It’s not wrong. And it’s certainly no different today than its ever been. 1637, 1797, 1819, 37, 57, 84, 1901, 07, 29, 1937, 1974, 1987 – Jesus, didn’t that [$#@&] me up good – 92, 97, 2000 and whatever we want to call this. It’s all just the same thing over and over; we can’t help ourselves. And you and I can’t control it, or stop it, or even slow it. Or even ever-so-slightly alter it. We just react. And we make a lot money if we get it right. And we get left by the side of the side of the road if we get it wrong. And there have always been and there always will be the same percentage of winners and losers. Happy foxes and sad sacks. Fat cats and starving dogs in this world. Yeah, there may be more of us today than there’s ever been. But the percentages-they stay exactly the same.”

Despite his moralizing he is on to something. Identifying the problem is the start to the solution.

The film was written by the son of a Merrill executive and stars Kevin Spacey, Jeremy Irons, Stanley Tucci, and Demi Moore.

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