High inflation. Fear of recession. Disruptions, like the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. How did the U.S. economy get here? A two-hour documentary special traces the road to this moment, and the role of the Federal Reserve, the country’s central bank.
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FRONTLINE investigates the Fed’s epic economic experiment to revive the U.S. economy with what has been called an “easy money” policy and the far-reaching and sometimes unintended consequences.
“If we hadn’t been driving our economy for 14 years with easy money and then tried to really quickly undo that now, we wouldn’t be having these problems,” former top banking regulator Sheila Bair said in the documentary.
From the 2008 recession, to the COVID pandemic, to the rise in inflation, to the current economic uncertainty, “Age of Easy Money” charts the American economy’s tumultuous course, the fragility of the financial system and the widening gap between Wall Street and Main Street.
The documentary examines what led to the Fed’s recent decisions to hike interest rates at a historic pace and probes the ongoing effects, offering a comprehensive and timely examination of the role of the institution at the heart of America’s economy.
The documentary is supported by The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative that examines poverty, justice and economic opportunity in America.
The director, producer and correspondent of “Age of Easy Money” is James Jacoby. The producer is Anya Bourg. The senior producer is Frank Koughan. The editor-in-chief and executive producer of FRONTLINE is Raney Aronson-Rath.
For more reporting in connection with this investigation, visit FRONTLINE’s website:
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FRONTLINE is produced at GBH in Boston and airs nationwide on PBS.
Funding for FRONTLINE is provided through the support of PBS viewers and by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Additional support for FRONTLINE is provided by the Abrams Foundation; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Park Foundation; the Heising-Simons Foundation; and the FRONTLINE Journalism Fund with major support from Jon and Jo Ann Hagler on behalf of the Jon L. Hagler Foundation, and additional support from Koo and Patricia Yuen.
Funding for “Age of Easy Money” is provided by The WNET Group’s Chasing the Dream, a public media initiative reporting on poverty, justice, and economic opportunity in America, with major funding by The JPB Foundation and additional funding from Sue and Edgar Wachenheim, III.
Prologue – 00:00
Federal Reserve Tries Easy Money Policies in Great Recession – 5:38
In 2010, Federal Reserve Steps Up Quantitative Easing – 19:37
Concerns and Criticisms of the Federal Reserve’s Easy Money Policies – 28:48
After An Attempt to Pull Back in 2018, Easy Money Becomes Status Quo – 38:25
Dire Warnings About Largely Unregulated “Shadow Banks” – 50:28
Federal Reserve’s Easy Money Policies Go Into “Overdrive” to Combat COVID’s Economic Impacts – 53:28
“Bad News for the Economy was Good News for Markets” – 1:06:26
Warnings That “Unprecedented” Stimulus Could Lead to Excessive Demand and Inflation – 1:16:18
An Epicenter of High Inflation in the U.S. – 1:23:30
The Federal Reserve’s Response to Inflation – 1:28:42
The Impact of the Federal Reserve’s Interest Rate Hikes – 1:37:57
Lessons for the U.S. Economy From the Era of Easy Money – 1:48:34
Credits – 1:51:58