Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Existential Wizard behind Money

I love joining-the-dots about unrelated events, conspiracy theories and trying to see exactly who are 'the men behind the curtain’. Sometimes my mind does wander and I get puzzled about things. As a businessman, the financial crisis, which still continues, has made me scratch my head, and fuel anxiety. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ [1900] has always haunted me since seeing it preformed as a musical play when I was a child. I have always believed it to be an allegorical fable based on exposing the ‘truth’ behind what we term money. These rumours have circulated for many years, even the BBC investigated these claims -

It's unlikely its young fans will have been thinking about deflation and monetary policy.

But the story has underlying economic and political references that make it a popular tool for teaching university and high school students - mainly in the United States but also in the UK - about the economic depression of the late 19th Century.

At a time when some economists fear an onset of deflation, and economic certainties melt away like a drenched wicked witch, what can be learnt from Oz?

The 1939 film starring a young Judy Garland was based on Lyman Frank Baum's book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, published in 1900. It told of an orphaned Kansas girl swept by a tornado into a fantastical world, but who wants to return home to her aunt and uncle.

Thinking the great Wizard of Oz can grant her wish, she sets out to meet him with her beloved dog, Toto, joined by a scarecrow, a tin woodman and a lion.

Baum published the book in 1900, just after the US emerged from a period of deflation and depression. Prices had fallen by about 22% over the previous 16 years, causing huge debt.

Farmers were among those badly affected, and the Populist political party was set up to represent their interests and those of industrial labourers.

The US was then operating on the gold standard - a monetary system which valued the dollar according to the quantity of gold. The Populists wanted silver, along with gold, to be used for money. This would have increased the US money supply, raised price levels and reduced farmers' debt burdens.

Read More Here

Then there was all this talk about the links behind Pink Floyd’s 1973 ‘The Dark Side of The Moon’ and the film version of The Wizard of Oz, what always made me smile is that the only track from that album released as a single was ‘Money’. The worrying thing is that Floyd’s last studio album was ‘The Division Bell’ which has the icons from Easter Island as its cover motif, and we all know what happened to the people who lived on Easter Island.

This is the opening what is termed ‘The Dark Side of Oz’ – if you want to view the whole film – click here

We live in strange days, indeed, strange days indeed.

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