Central banks are surrounded by an aura of complexity, so much so that the mere utterance of the word or thought of the institution renders many a person to the abyss of boredom. Yet, as Richard Werner demonstrates in “Princes of the Yen”, central banks are fascinating institutions and should be observed closely. To be able to do this, we need to understand what it is that they do.
I discovered “Princes of the Yen” by accident whilst browsing for books on Japanese history and economics. It looked sufficiently interesting that I paid £30 pounds for it. I soon realized that this was no ordinary book on economics or central banks, but a very well written historical account of the Bank of Japan and the Japanese economic system, which offers not only a wealth of technical detail, but also meticulously dissects the personalities involved.
It is not often that as a filmmaker you come across something that you feel is so uniquely important. The implications of the theory Richard Werner puts forward are truly earth shattering, yet hardly anyone is listening. I say hardly anyone, because conversely, he has advised various politicians, governments and their parliaments. It was the general public who weren’t listening. This film is an attempt to rectify that situation.
This film has been two and a half years in the making, the barriers to its completion have been significant, so too have the number of events that can only be termed highly unusual. Was someone trying to tell us something? Or were these just unfortunate coincidences?
“Free market” capitalism is the religion of the 21st century, and as such it should not come as a surprise that its foundations rest on a series beliefs. To challenge these beliefs is to challenge the validity of the system and its beneficiaries.
In the words of one Japanese central banker, “it is not easy to change the institutional frame work and promote structural reform, since it necessarily involves the vested interests of all the related individual economic agents.”