One of the hottest topics on the Internet today is financial reform. Web sites like C-Span and PBS Radio are diluted with insightful information about root causes, effects and possible solutions for the financial chaos which exploded in 2008.
A guy once said “greed is good” and the phrase stayed. Nowadays it’s legal. As you look around, everyone at Wall Street seems to be drinking the same Kool Aid. There was a recent comment made by a Congress Representative that caught my attention; “If ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ were candy and nuts, we would have a Merry Christmas.”
It’s so true. Nobody seems to accept the blame for what happened. All the main players of the financial fiasco agree that the economic collapse of Wall Street was a result of a combination of overwhelming underlying market forces which concurred in 2008 to create one of the worst economic disasters of modern times. This is not exactly what happened. The main problem was the cultural environment embedded in Wall Street based on the passionate love of money.
Nobody saw it coming. Everybody was caught by surprise. As of this day, not a single CEO of the largest Wall Street banks has taken full responsibility for mismanagement or fraud. Furthermore, not a single arrest, indictment or conviction has been made to senior insiders of the mayor sub-prime lenders. All was peace and love inside the walled—no pun intended—Garden of Eden, until the stuff hit the fan on Monday, September 15, 2008. On this day, the world held its breath as the arteries of the globe’s financial system froze up. Should I continue? Nah, you already know the rest of the story.
Two days ago I watched a movie—for the third time—which depicts very well the culture at Wall Street since the dawn of times. This culture is based on the arrogant love of money and sheer greed. The name of this picture is Wall Street directed by Oliver Stone in 1987. The story takes place in New York City in 1985. The similarities to the events which took place at Wall Street during September of 2008 are striking.
Below is an excerpt of a speech made by Gordon Gekko, the main character of the film brilliantly played by Michael Douglas. Other seasoned actors who also performed remarkable roles in this film were Charlie Sheen, Martin Sheen and Daryl Hannah.
“America has become a second-rate power. Its trade deficit and its fiscal deficit are of nightmare proportions. Now, the days of the free market when our country was a top industrial power, there was accountability to the stockholder. The Carnegies, the Mellons, the Vanderbilts who built this great industrial empire made sure of it because it was their money at stake. Today, management has no stake in the company.
Altogether, these men sitting up here, own less than 3 percent of the company, and where does Mr. Cromwell put his million dollars to hold? Now, in Teldar stock, he owns less than one percent. You own the company. That’s right, you the stockholder. You are all being screwed over by these bureaucrats with their state lunches, with their hunting and fishing trips, their corporate jets and golden parachutes.
The new law of evolution in corporate America seems to be survival of the unfittest. Well, in my book, you either do it right or you get eliminated. I’m not a destroyer of companies. I’m a liberator of them. The point is, ladies and gentlemen, is that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right. Greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through and captures the essence of evolutionary spirit. Greed in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge, has marked upwards in surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioned corporation called the USA.”
No matter what they say, the heart of the financial calamity was greed—love of money—starting from the borrower, all the way up the ladder to the CEO of the big banks. The rest is dressing on the cake. Good Day.
Note: Click above link to view the entire picture.