Almost a quarter of a century has passed since the release of the movie “Wall Street,” and the film seems more relevant than ever. The self-righteous screeds of financial tycoons denouncing President Obama all read like variations on Gordon Gekko’s famous “greed is good” speech, while the complaints of Occupy Wall Street sound just like what Gekko says in private: “I create nothing. I own,” he declares at one point; at another, he asks his protégé, “Now you’re not naïve enough to think we’re living in a democracy, are you, buddy?”It is pathetic that the voting public in the US hasn't seen through the scam of a Republican party running on "family values" when in fact the only value it upholds is Wall Street's "greed is good".
Yet, with the benefit of hindsight, we can see that the movie went a little off at the end. It closes with Gekko getting his comeuppance, and justice served thanks to the diligence of the Securities and Exchange Commission. In reality, the financial industry just kept getting more and more powerful, and the regulators were neutered.
And, according to the prediction market Intrade, there’s a 45 percent chance that a real-life Gordon Gekko will be the next Republican presidential nominee.
I am not, of course, the first person to notice the similarity between Mitt Romney’s business career and the fictional exploits of Oliver Stone’s antihero. In fact, the labor-backed group Americans United for Change is using “Romney-Gekko” as the basis for an ad campaign. But there’s an issue here that runs deeper than potshots against Mr. Romney.
Friday, December 9, 2011
Krugman Takes the Gloves Off
Here is the opening bit of Paul Krugman's latest NY Times op-ed. It is well worth reading the whole thing.