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It's A Wonderful Life, directed by Frank Capra, 1946.

Struggling to understand what’s happening with Silicon Valley Bank? These movies can help you make sense of it all.

Wondering how to explain a bank run? Or how the financial system actually works? What the heck are derivatives? Let culture be your guide. Here are four movies and one book for you to binge on this week.

It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946) “The money’s not there!” George Bailey’s cry (is there anyone who can do plaintive and hang-dog like Jimmy Stewart?) still resonates more than 70 years later. The failure of the Building and Loan explains how everyone is affected when a financial institution fails because it’s interwoven into the fabric of our lives. This was one of the first movies to show that money has value because we give it value, and also that the system is not an abstract idea.

Mary Poppins (Robert Stevenson, 1964) Bet you didn’t realize this was about more than a spoon full of sugar making the medicine go down. But George Banks (why were all the bankers called George?) has a great song, Fidelity Fiduciary Bank, that highlights the importance of compound interest. But when young Michael refuses to give his tuppence to the banker, it starts a run. Now that’s supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

Trading Places (John Landis, 1983) Dan Aykroyd, Eddie Murphy and Jamie Lee Curtis star in this hilarious Christmas/financial flick that has this killer line: “In this building, it’s either kill or be killed. You make no friends in the pits and you take no prisoners. One minute you’re up half a million in soybeans and the next, boom, your kids don’t go to college and they’ve repossessed your Bentley.” If you want to understand insider trading and commodities and futures markets, then this is what you want to tune in to this week.

The Big Short (Adam McKay, 2015) Based on a Michael Lewis book of the same name, this is a go-to if you want to figure out short selling and collateralized debt obligations. Steve Carell, Brad Pitt and Christian Bale all bet on the implosion of the housing market that led to the 2008 crash that took out Lehman Brothers. The result was the American government bailing out other banks to stop the contagion for destroying the financial system.

Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (Adam Tooze, 2018) This book is a handy explainer of how geopolitics – involving U.S., EU and Chinese governments –affects the world economy and what happens when fear and disillusionment run rampant.

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