By L. Randall Wray

I highly recommend a movie to be released next year (that is, the year that begins next week). Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame, is one of the key developers of the film. It is on the Global Financial Crisis, but also provides a quick history of bubbles and crashes. It is highly entertaining and as good as any that I’ve seen on the crisis.

The movie features Hyman P. Minsky as well as J.K. Galbraith, who appear as life-sized puppets. One of Terry’s crew told me they brought Minsky over from England on a plane as a fare-paying customer. I would have loved to have seen the look on the faces of the flight attendants. I hope they bought him a beer.

Originally they were to film Minsky in his office at the Levy Institute, but when they saw pictures of it they said that there’s no way such a big and important economist could have had such an inauspicious office (albeit in beautiful Blithewood overlooking the Hudson). So they used a nice library down in Manhattan.

As Terry puts it, ”I wanted to be part of this project as soon as I discovered economics students are taught crashes just don’t happen.”

Here’s the blurb on the purpose of the project: In revealing the truth about our unstable economic system, the film acts as the starting point for global project – to get the world talking about change through education. A central hub for information, news and ideas, BoomBustClick is an online resource for everyone – can we change an unstable economic system? Can we adapt economics to human nature?

Terry interviewed me for the film. He’s as funny as you’d expect, but also deeply engaged and knowledgeable. Most of my interview ended up on the cutting room floor, but some bits survived.

You’ll also enjoy interviews with Steve Keen and Jamie Galbraith. Minsky’s son, Alan, is a natural before the camera. The actor John Cusack makes some memorable comments. Steve Kinsella and John Cassidy are good. My friend Zvi Bodie (best name in economics) is featured, as is Paul Krugman. The UK’s Andy Haldane–one of the regulators–does a bit of mea culpa for the profession’s failure to “see it coming”.

As an added bonus, the film has some catchy tunes that you won’t be able to get out of your head.

Go to the project’s website for more info; I presume they’ll be posting up the film’s release date soon. There are some clips on the making of the film that you can enjoy now.

See more.


  1. …And it rocks!

  2. Did you read “the book that started it all”?

    Kocken seems to have no understanding of monetary sovereignty.

    “If European politicians had an endogenous instability view of the world, they would not keep
    driving up the national debt ”

    ” if we include the implicit government debt arising from an ageing population, we are
    much, much worse off than during the Great Depression. ”

    “driving up the debt for the meanwhile is clearly denying the problem
    and making it even worse and that debt is being driven up by the likes of the ECB”

    ” The government itself has now become a speculative and often a Ponzi participant.”

  3. Are there plans for an international release? We desperately need an effective, entertaining, and widely-distributed antidote for the TINA propaganda that currently has Italy (and the rest of southern Europe) in thrall. And the sooner the better!

    Maybe comedians can succeed where politics as usual fails miserably.

  4. Jonathon: i did not read the book and probably won’t. This is not an MMT movie. It is about bubbles and the financial crisis. There isn’t much in the movie that is wrong; there is more emphasis on the bubbles than I would prefer–I’d put more on Minsky’s stages approach–but of course bubbles did play an important role.
    That said, you need to remember that much of europe is in the EMU. These are not sovereign countries. Almost all of them have govt debt that is 5 times too big; in the case of Italy it is 10 times too big. That is exactly what MMT concludes and has concluded since before the EMU was put in place. Nonsovereign govts should not be allowed to run deficits, and should not accumulate debt above 15% or so of GDP. They need debt relief, not more debt, as a temporary fix until such time as the EMU is reformed.

    • I wonder, since even Germany has above 75% debt-to-GDP, does that mean that the only debt relief can come from monetizing through the ECB?

      • Or, since the bondholders themselves are probably quite happy to have such secure bonds and show no inclination of wanting anything else, isn’t it likely that any European response that reduces those debts would cause a backlash by politically important (ie. bond-holding) groups? So, perhaps, mass-conversion of national bonds to new-fangled ECB bonds might be the answer.

        • Haha. I’m trying to picture George Soros (or any other financial tycoon) saying, “Yes, I’ll accept a 75% haircut on my bonds.”

  5. The title “Boom-Bust” was previously used on a book by Fred Harrison about the cause of the 2007 economic crisis. Along with many (Georgist School) supporters of the same idea, Fred showed that the cause of macroeconomic instability of this kind is due to speculation in land-values. This idea came originally from US economist Henry George whose seminal book “Progress and Poverty” of 1879 was the first to show how this apparently minor economic tendency can easily result in the banking attitude to assisting the land owner, through low mortgage rates and easy conditions for big loans. This in turn encourages the speculation in land-values and the gradual rise in the cost of buying or renting useful sites. As the land becomes more costly so does its produce, so that the result is double-edged and not only does it become more difficult to buy at the same rate as previously, but there is less money to use for this purpose, due to the reduced demand and the resulting lack of employment and less wages etc.

    George also supplied the way of getting out of this situation, which occurs about once every 18 years, according to Fred. By avoiding the chances that allow speculation in land values George was able to claim that the national economy can be stablized and land prices will become self-controlled.

    George proposed a tax on land values and on nothing else so that the gift of nature in the bounty of the land plus its locally greater value (due to its raised productivity from population density), would be fairly shared by the whole community, instead of being partly wasted when land is held unused and when its rent passes to only one part of the community (the landlords) whilst taxes on earnings etc., are used to improve its infra-structure and its resulting value.


  6. I sincerely hope they don’t repeat that tired old meme or mantra from Wall Street and the Business Roundtable, namely that the meltdown was due to a small mortgage failure rate in the USA, as opposed to the ultra-leveraging, ultra-leveraged speculation (by banks, their hedge funds, and others), and ultra-leveraged insurance swindles (as in the Abacus CDO, the Point Pleasant CDO, the Timberwolf CDO, Magnetar Capital, etc., etc., etc., i.e., naked swaps).