Date
24 September 2018
La Casa de Papel is a Spanish crime drama about a group of criminals planning to enter the Royal Mint of Spain to print over 2 billion euros. Photo: Netlfix
La Casa de Papel is a Spanish crime drama about a group of criminals planning to enter the Royal Mint of Spain to print over 2 billion euros. Photo: Netlfix

What a Spanish crime drama tells us about the financial crisis

The much-anticipated Spanish crime drama La Casa De Papel/Money Heist is finally being aired in Hong Kong on Netflix.

The story is about a group of criminals planning the biggest heist in history. Their goal is to enter the Royal Mint of Spain and print billions of euros during 11 days of seclusion.

First aired in May, the TV series was produced by Antena 3. Given its high popularity, Netflix decided to acquire the rights to stream the series. It has re-edited the series and provided subtitles for different markets.

Money Heist is the most widely watched non-English TV drama on Netflix, according to the US media company’s first-quarter report.

The drama is a metaphor for the money-printing moves adopted by major central banks in the West in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The drama has an excellent cast, cinematography, setting, music, etc. Its storyline can grip the audience like other popular TV series such as Prison Break, House of Cards, and Black Mirror.

The series tells of a mysterious professor, who recruits a team of eight people with special abilities, including a hacker, a scientist, and a psychologist. They then take hostages and lock themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain for 11 days printing money amounting to over 2 billion euros.

Money Heist appears to blame the central banks of the United States and Europe for their endless quantitative easing (QE) programs following the 2008 financial crisis.

In the drama, the professor tells a police officer: “The European Central Bank printed 145 billion euros in 2013. That’s exactly what we are doing now. All that money went to banks in different places, and then lent to the rich at low-interest rates. Is anyone calling the ECB a thief?”

According to the professor, the QE program unfairly benefited the rich and pushed up asset prices and the costs of consumer goods, worsening the wealth inequality.

La Casa De Papel literally means “the house of paper” in Spanish. The house looks magnificent but it is very fragile.

The QE program led by US Federal Reserve has prevented the global economy from collapsing, but it also pushed up asset prices to exorbitant levels.

It has not solved the real problems. Some European nations like Spain, Portugal and Greece are still struggling with unemployment rates as high as 20 percent. Countries like Italy, Argentina and Brazil are facing another debt crisis at the moment.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 6

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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