Calloway - The Money Case. A thriller

Detective Frank Calloway is on a secret mission. He has received an order from the very wealthy, but also somewhat mysterious Professor Sun and his smart business partner Heather Flower to investigate "money".


What can you learn from this course?

  • You will see that money is more than just a means of payment and a store of value.
  • You learn to understand money in its entirety. You broaden your view and you learn that money is much more than an economic phenomenon.
  • In the end, you work out your own definition, in your own words and with the knowledge you have acquired - so you are ready to explain to others what money actually is.

Three short videos are shown as overview on the film and its money concepts. 

The Mission


Medium of Exchange

In the Middle Ages, physical objects such as coins were traded, whereas today everything is bought with money. Money is an abstract concept and a pure medium of exchange without physical substance. Historical means of exchange, on the other hand, consisted of real materials such as silver. The transformation from tangible means of exchange to abstract money is closely linked to our social structure. Despite its abstractness, money is powerful because our modern society relies on it.


Calloway has bought a notebook with a 10 euro bill. He recognizes that the value lies in the banknote as a medium of exchange. However, he wonders how the value of the notebook is created and whether it is the labor expended. That would be Karl Marx's well-known labor theory of value. He comes to the conclusion that it is important to understand the underlying system that creates this invisible value. It is not just about the physical object, but about the mechanisms that give it its value.

Surplus Value

Calloway thinks about the value of money and realizes that it is only valuable if you can buy goods with it and it is accepted as a means of payment. However, you have to earn more money than you spend in order to make a profit and continue to exist. A business must be profitable. Although money does not physically grow like potatoes, it must increase in value to retain its importance as money. An increase in money must correspond to an increase in goods, otherwise it loses value. Therefore, money must add value in order to retain its meaning and function as money.

Money Creation

But why does money have to grow in order to remain money, whereas coins in the Middle Ages did not have to grow in order to remain coins? Money is no longer a material thing, but a medium of exchange that can be converted into anything. Money is created by granting credit and disappears again when the credit is repaid. The main goal is that more and more loans are granted than are repaid so that more money remains in the system.

Monetary Backing

Money is created through credit, which involves not only the state or the central bank, but also commercial banks. Every loan is new money as long as it is not repaid. In the 16th century, credit became commonplace and everyone became part of a network of credit and debt. Money is not backed by a physical value like gold. The idea of a gold backing arose to strengthen confidence in the stability of the value of money. Money derives its value solely from the expectation of what it can exchange for.

Money Expansion

Calloway reflects on the nature of money. The whole of society is based on buying and selling, with money serving as a means of exchange. But the power of money is based on its constant multiplication. This means growth, but how does this growth work?


Competition characterizes our economic system. By competing for money, buyers and sellers drive the market mechanisms. Buyers want to pay little, sellers want to receive a lot. This leads to competition among sellers for the favor of buyers. Globalization extends this competition to a world market. 

Striving for more is essential, because in competition only success counts. Winning is never enough, because the aim is to be better than the competition. Competition can stimulate business, but it can also destroy it. This competition has little to do with noble competition; it is all about money.

The Nation State

Calloway reflects on the relationship between money and the state and notes that they are closely linked. The modern state emerged in the 16th century and led to impersonal relationships. Money developed at the same time and led to the need for an impersonal state. Money and the state shape each other and represent a new kind of power that has never been so dominant before. The state supports and promotes the system of money.


Calloway observes many signs of private property in the city and recognizes that the state protects property as private property. However, he questions the modern understanding of property. In the past, property was anchored in the community. Money becomes an exclusive right that excludes others, creating a spiral in which money is both the problem and its solution.


Calloway presents his findings and identifies two main suspects: money and capital. Current global problems such as climate change, pollution, mass extinction and social inequality are often blamed on "humanity", but Calloway argues that humans have not always acted in this way. These problems have a historical genesis. Instead of blaming humanity or mere "greed", Calloway confronts the "innocence" of money: it is not a neutral medium of exchange, but has power and drives constant growth. Money is responsible for the problems of growth. It is not the victim of capital, but is itself capital.

Signet Sunflower Foundation