The pandemic has been a watershed moment that unveiled the loopholes in our economic system. The average American experienced economic problems and realized their gravity. The intensity of these issues is much higher than that of the Financial Recession of 2008-2009. While American people have learned the ways and become accustomed to living after the financial recession; yet they were bewildered by the economic downturn of 2021.
The economic issues faced by American middle-class people during the pandemic are mirrored in Lowenthal’s Money Game. The film is set to release in 2023. It not only depicts the economic hardships faced by the American people due to the pandemic-inflicted economic downturn but also aims to educate about basic economics, finance, and their consequences on the masses. The film is shot in Franklin County and is based on a white paper, ‘the $340 Trillian Problem,’ written by Chris Galizio and Moses Grader. The cast features Daniel Washington as James; Krishan Mitchell as Imani; Terrance McFadden Jr. as Bryson; Stephanie Bisono as Camilla; and Kris Sidberry as Christine.
The film opens up with a conversation between James and Bryson Hill. James is a widowed father of two girls and is striving hard to meet the ends during the pandemic. Whereas, Bryson Hill is the CEO of TAPIT (The Next Big Thing), a social media application similar to TikTok, YouTube, and Snapchat. The financial situation of both these friends is starkly different.
Gardner: “What would happen if we remove risk from capitalism? Let me give you an example, what would happen to the ecosystem of the Savanna if we slaughtered every one of the lions (interest rates, risk)?” The discussion with Mr. Gardner, who is a professor at the university is one of the defining dialogues of the movie. This discussion helps James understanding the capitalist economic system and develop a different perspective. Professor Gardner regards that the ecosystem of capitalism has been broken down due to the intervention of the FED.
The movie reflects how inflation has risen drastically in contemporary times due to the misallocation of resources and competition for scarce resources (food, energy, etc.). The shift in the ecosystem from capitalism (Adam Smith), that rewards profit to the mechanism of central planning (Keynesian) supporting the companies which need financing, has broken down the economy. The real economy is no longer growing with the removal of risks i.e., interest from the economic system.
The Big 5 from the African savanna are used for representing the ecosystem of capitalism. An animal represents every cast member in the movie. The lion symbolizes active managers, the gazelle symbolizes passive managers, the wildebeest symbolizes Professor Gardner, and the rhino symbolizes gold i.e., a coin in the CNDC commercial that encourages everybody to “Save the rhinos as they are not dinosaurs yet.”
The economy would become a “fair and equal” playing field for everyone when central planners would be removed and a deliberate attempt is made for reverting to capitalism (Adam Smith). A return to capitalism will increase the chances of a booming economy and proper management of resources. In such a world, family life and togetherness have been described as key values that should be held on. Towards the denouement of drama, James meets Aimee in the classroom and they fall in love.
Professor Gardner’s interaction and discussion with the students serve as an eye-opening information about the economy and finances for people, who have little information about this topic. Movies like Money Game play a key role in disseminating information about difficult and seemingly boring subjects among the masses. Lowenthal mirrors real-world economic problems in his movie, which makes it easier for common people to understand these issues while simultaneously relating to them.