Monday, April 21, 2008

What I've been watching lately

  • The Corporation. I've actually seen only half of it this evening and decided to leave the other half for later. The first half is widely unbalanced towards "the evil that corporations do", mostly exclusively emphasizing the negative externalities and making CEO's explanations of the rationale behind a corporation's activity sound like a lunatic madman's assault on the welfare of the world. I don't find any incentive to watch the second half but just for the sake of having a complete overview of their standpoint I'll do it.
  • The Trap : What Happened to our Freedom, a BBC documentary series. If you are in search for a more balanced approach of the 20th century macroeconomics I advise you to skip to the next paragraph. Although this documentary features some very interesting interviews with scientists from different fields (economics, anthropology, psychology etc.) - my favorite one was with John Nash - discussing different factors that modeled - and sometimes altered - the perception of individual liberty in modern society, I definitely hate filmed material that uses irrational stimulus mechanisms - like emotionally engaging music and images - to propagate the idea that we are all living in a trap that limits our individual freedom based on a model that some powerful politicians try to impose us. As rational beings we should be capable to judge by ourselves to which extent the system limits our freedom.
  • Commanding Heights : The Battle for the World Economy, a PBS documentary in 3 parts, of which the first part is my favorite one, describing the battle of ideas between the economic currents inspired by economists John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich Hayek during the first half of the 20th century. The second part and the third one describe how economic policies in different countries throughout the world have been shaped during the entire 20th century by these two currents of thought. As in any filmed material, the power of the image is channeled to push through a central idea while omitting to give an honest account of the opposite points of view, but compared to the previous two documentaries I find this one to be the most balanced one.