Princes of the Yen

Princes of the Yen

2014, Economics  -   17 Comments
Ratings: 7.79/10 from 242 users.

"Central banks have the power to create economic, political and social change. This is how they do it." This passage opens the film, and that is precisely what non-partisan political and socio-economic documentarian group QueuePolitely puts under the microscope in the Princes of the Yen. Based on a book by Professor Richard Werner and directed by Michael Oswald, the film aims to break down and simplify the ways in which central banks influence the world we live in.

The film opens on archival footage from the 1941 Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, and works to set the stage for what would become an American-led occupation of post-war Japan where Democracy was imposed upon the nation "as if they'd never heard of it." The commercial banking system of the country was logically in shambles, with most of its assets being comprised of war bonds and loans to industries that had been wrecked by the war - rendering it basically bankrupt.

This shortcoming was alleviated by the Japanese central bank swooping in and buying these worthless assets with newly-created reserves. The first two post-war Japanese central bank governors were appointed by the American occupation hierarchy, and numerous other high-ranking government officials that would assume power in the war's aftermath were very much in line with the American agenda.

Through an economic principal called "window guidance," the Bank of Japan, after being awarded complete autonomy with its economic policies, would maintain strict control over who and what commercial banks were allowed to lend money to. As time went on and the Japanese economy continued the grow at unprecedented rates, these controls catered to the trend because it was of course easiest and most ideal to sustain the financial bubble.

By the 1980's, Japanese bankers had become notorious for pushing loans onto high-risk candidates at bargain interest rates, a practice encouraged by management because the banks themselves needed to hit the lending quotas imposed on them by the Bank of Japan. These risky financial decisions eventually led to a monumental economic crash in the early 90's, which is the inevitable outcome of reckless and greedy practices like these.

Directed by: Michael Oswald

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17 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Anarchrist

    Great documentary, though the creators should have also shown more or less exactly where the revenue of those illicit procedures went.

  2. winter

    why are they wearing masks?

    1. Anarchrist

      To reduce the intake of smog and bacteria.

  3. Aerovinh

    at first i thought this was bad doc then i watched it and now is 3rd time i watch this doc, all i can say is this financial technology is a scam which Thomas Jefferson tried to warn us more than 200 years ago. i will quote what he said:

    “If the people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks…will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered…. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs.” – Thomas Jefferson in the debate over the Re-charter of the Bank Bill (1809)

  4. TG Molitor

    crisis = sovereign destruction = global centralization = one world order

    An informative doc with a nice admixture of found footage, ambient music, and Richard Werner as the thematic throughline.

    1. Jason Cline

      Sovereignty is a matter defined by perspective. What people don't admit or understand is that in fearing one world order, you fear the loss of your culture, not your standards of freedom. The irony is that all cultures, by the very origin of their nature, will/do/must change.

    2. bluetortilla

      The formation of a centralized authority is the only hope we have of controlling the errant out-of-control forces that now threaten our very survival as a species.
      What is common and sad is to hear someone say that will be no slave to a world government when they are already one: not only to their own but further still to the world powers that tyrannize and dominate all of our lives on a global scale. That denial is the delusion of our age; we are living under empire now.

    3. Jason Cline

      A slave can survive without a master but the human race cannot survive without a society. I think it's sad that people expect all the benefits of civilization and none of the responsibilities or costs. If you cannot stomach having leaders then you do have the recourse to strive to be the one leading. Far fetched as that goal sounds it's far more realistic than expecting to perpetuate our race in anarchy. I might also add that there is nothing about anarchy to prevent someone from exercising control over you.

  5. jurassic

    good documentary.
    I can't wait for a sequel :o)

  6. bluetortilla

    I thought it very oversimplified and formalistic. It was interesting to get inside names and such from Japan though- that often neglected in the press economic dynamo.
    I fail to see at all though how Japan ran a 'war economy' during peacetime. That is a demonizing criticism de facto that is a gross error. I think the term they wanted was 'command economy' but since recovery (early 50's roughly) Japan has never been that, though it has elements of it. So has every nation.

    1. Guest

      They aren't saying that Japan was running a war economy literally. They are referring to the government's control over the flow of credit, which was also present during war time (credit was being directed towards the war effort, in that case) and how this created a highly competitive environment for Japanese companies that fought each other for survival.
      They are saying "Japan's economy was again being directed towards areas of interest by the government, as it happened during the war."
      That's why they are using the term "war economy".
      I agree that this term is poorly chosen, it can be confusing and even incorrect, "directed economy" is a more suitable term.
      In any case, they say this was beneficial for the Japanese people as it distributed wealth evenly.

    2. bluetortilla

      Of course I'd agree with that, and while extension of credit is of absolute importance to a war economy, it is the control of production itself that is perhaps even more definitive. That is often called a command economy, though not certainly not all economic activities fall under that umbrella, even during wartime.
      Whether Japan engaged or not in a planned economy after the war, which is synonymous to a command economy, is something I can't comment on, but to call Japan's postwar economy a 'war economy' is erroneous, judgmental, and very misleading. Speaking of which, the U.S. has the largest 'war economy' in the world by far and though that is something we ample evidence for, but no one talks about its 'war economy.'

    3. Magnus

      you miss the Point totally. The fact that the USA spends most Money in the World on the war machinery has nothing to do with the phrase war economy in this Movie. It has nothing to to do with war or wepons manufacturig. The phrase war economy is to point out how the economy is run nothing else. That the credit is controlled in the benifit of the state/ppl. Something that more countrys would benifit from insted of running a neo liberal economy.

    4. ppl

      "That the credit is controlled in the benefit of the state/ppl."

      Let's define some terms:

      State - a group of gun wielding, money printing sociopaths that do not understand how the economy works ( on their best day ), yet seek to control it anyway.

      Ppl (people) - everyone else that is robbed by the state for their own good. Having economic decisions made for them with 1) the money taken from them, 2) the money they have left over, and 3) the money printed that their children will have to work to absolve (involuntary debt)

      Don't worry, plenty of countries already "benefit" from this system.

    5. Jake

      I really liked this documentary and informative discussions under it. I would like to add a bit to bluetortilla explanations, which I feel are very good. From my perspective Japan has been, since the 1940's a "vassal" of the US. All their economic policies where shaped by the US for the benefit of the US.
      Through the control of interest rates through the Bank of Japan, the yen carry trade, adding destroying capital and the most recent buying US treasury bonds with their government pension funds. To me, running a "war economy" seemed very accurate. It fits the bill of price controls, extreme money printing, and the government flow of credit. And yes I completely agree Japan was not building weapons, expanding their empire which would qualify them as a "war economy".instead of a "control economy"
      However, as you stated the US is the biggest "war economy". And for many decades Japan has been around 70%+ of our treasury bonds.purchases. Without their treasury bond purchases we would have been unable to run our "war economy". To me, if a country implements price controls, and prints large amounts of money. And those revenues are forced into US treasury bonds by the US and then we make bombs and weapons that would constitute a "war economy". Money that we can never pay back and they know it.
      I look at it like this. If a vassal state of Rome printed alot of money and implemented controls. And Rome took that money from its vassel to support war and the war machine. I would say that region is running a war economy, regardless if they physically build weapons themselves.

  7. Luis Fernando

    Very very good doc
    Great work

  8. KC

    Great documentary. Eerily familiar though.