Doug Kass: 'Money for Nothing' Is a Must-See
NEW YORK ( Real Money ) -- About a week ago, an old friend of mine, Dick Bruce, who worked with me at First Albany back in the early 1990s and went on to run Merrill Lynch's Syndicate Department, came over to my house and gave me a copy of a film that his son Jim produced.
The movie, Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve will have its world premiere at the International Documentary Film Festival in Amsterdam on Nov. 15.
After that, the plan is to screen the movie in U.S. theaters in 2013, then release it on television and DVD.
This past weekend I screened a rough cut of the film.
Money for Nothing is narrated by Liev Schreiber . It is an independent, nonpartisan, feature-length documentary film. The cast includes prominent Fed watcher and my friend/buddy/pal James Grant of Grant's Interest Rate Observer . Also appearing in the film are former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker; investor Jeremy Grantham; former Vice Chairman of the Fed Alan Blinder; Peter Fisher, former Under Secretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance; Philadelphia Fed President Charles Plosser; Richmond Fed President Jeffrey Lacker; Vice Chair of the Fed Board of Governors Janet Yellen; and many more. (The full cast can be seen here.)
To my surprise, many of my buddies are featured in the movie -- CNBC's Maria Bartiromo, our own Jim "El Capitan" Cramer, The Big Picture's Barry Ritholtz, Minyanville's Todd Harrison, John Mauldin of Thoughts From the Frontline and Dr. Gary Shilling.
Money For Nothing covers 100 years of Fed history and is quite critical of Fed policies in many cases. The film asks the question: Can the Fed learn from its past?
The movie pays homage to Volcker and lays out thoughtful and respectful criticism of former Chairmen Arthur Burns and Alan Greenspan and current Chairman Ben Bernanke, among others.
I've spoken with the movie's director, Jim Bruce, and he tells me the goal of the film is to create informed debate that exposes the impact of Fed policy on the U.S. economy and on society (from the Greenspan Put to the Bernanke Put). The film questions the rationale behind today's Fed actions and calls for better policies in the future.
Starting with the Panic of 1907 and ending with the risks on the horizon of today's quantitative-easing quagmire, Money for Nothing accomplishes that goal and more as it dramatically and entertainingly reveals the Fed's ongoing reluctance to shed old ideas. The movie is filled with wonderful narrative and fascinating images that capture the world of finance throughout the Twentieth Century.
Here is a three-minute trailer.