Capitalism – Oliver Stone style
I won’t bother trying to describe the anticipation I have for the release of Oliver Stone’s sequel to the 1987 hit Wall Street (Trailer below). At the time of that movie, my devotion to capitalism was being formed. Back then, I naively ignored the message in the original movie as much as I was allured to the power and cunning of the main character, Gordon Gecko. At the time, and I was ONLY 16, I assumed that capitalism was a zero-sum game. You had to have losers, to have winners. Of course the entire premise of a stock or bond trade is based on such things, but again, the moral message of the movie was lost on me. I suppose I would have consciously noticed it, but repelled it like any other less than sexy do-gooder message at the time. In fact the charm of the movie to me included the young, naive win at all costs upstart, Bud Fox, played by Charlie Sheen.
The new movie, Wall Street – Money Never Sleeps, promises to be a modern day re-telling of the “Greed is Good” mentality of the original. What makes my skin crawl with excitement, is that we have had 20 years of amazing capitalism themed real-life headlines. Many of those headlines were of course because there are in real life, people like Gordon Gecko. We had the likes of Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, Bernie Maddof and the near full collapse of the financial markets due to a sketchy and unregulated Shadow Banking System (2008, 2009).
Since 1987, almost 25 years ago, this is what we have seen happen in real life:
- IN 1987 the market suffered Black Monday, which the largest stock market sell-off ever in one day
- The late 1990’s dot-com bubble and the internet as a technology itself, brought stocks, and trading of stocks into the daily routines of average, largely untrained individuals
- Unprecedented mergers and acquisitions took place, largely based on wacky accounting rules which allowed unchecked goodwill expenses and cost of acquisition accounting
- The end of the 90’s and beginning of the 2000’s saw another collapse of the markets
- The wacky accounting of the late 90’s came home to roost in the collapse of merger mania and companies like Enron, WorldCom, etc.
- Major regulation change comes into affect, with Sarbanes-Oxley
- Another huge resurgence in the mid-2000’s occur, largely fueled by easy credit
- The Housing Bubble collapses, and then the Shadow Banking System nearly unwinds
- The financial markets were nearly brought down, and were “saved” by unprecedented global government intervention in private markets
Also, as this was all taking place, I was learning a thing or two about capitalism myself. I have learned that without capitalism, none of the economic growth which fuels common-good programs and protections simply couldn’t happen. I have learned that I can take from the system, for my own enjoyment and betterment, but at the same time contribute to the greater financial and governance eco-system through creating employment for others, and GASP paying taxes. (we’ll save the debate about inefficiencies in government and waste of tax-payers money to another blog).
SO, to summarize, you can see why I might get so excited about this movie. With all of these great truths to base the story, the fiction has never had a better chance. Like another great Oliver Stone movie, JFK, we have to suspend reality just enough to enjoy the premise of his movies, but nobody walks the line between truth and fiction better, and certainly no one makes what is morally questionable still seem to be scintillatingly sexy. (regrets to Hugh Hefner, who comes a close second).
Just watching the trailer makes me want to frickin pummel some do-gooder union types and acquire my 10 largest competitors. Luckily I am no-longer so naive. Barely.
Trailer – Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps
Bonus Video Clip – Gordon Gecko at his orginal best – “Greed is Good Clip”