Wall Street Never Sleeps: In this sequel to the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” Michael Douglas appears again as Gordon Gecko, a former corporate raider, investor and speculator, but now a changed character after a spell in prison. Here, he speaks to a college audience about his views on speculation.
Watch this clip from the original movie Wall Street.
Gordon Gekko:Someone reminded me the other evening that I once said, greed is good.
Now it seems it’s legal!
But folks, you know it’s greed that makes my bartender buy three houses he cannot afford with no money down. And it is greed that makes your parents refinance their 200,000 dollar house for 250k, and then they take that extra 50k and they go down to the shopping mall and they buy a plasma TV, cell phones, computers and an SUV. And hey, why not a second home while we are at it. Because, gee whiz, I mean we all know the prices of houses in America always go up. Right?
And it’s greed that makes the government of this country cut the interest rates to 1% after 9/11 so we can all go shopping again.
They got all these fancy names for trillions of dollars of credit, CMOs, CDOs, SIVs, ABSes. You know I honestly think there’s maybe only 75 people in the world who know what they are.
But I’ll tell you what they are, they are WMDs. Weapons of mass destruction.
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When I was away, it seemed that greed, got greedier. With a little bit of envy mixed in. Hedge fund managers just walking home with 50 to 100 million bucks a year.
So Mr. Banker, he looks around and he says, “My life looks pretty boring!” So he starts leveraging his interest up to 40%, 50% to 100%. With your money, not his. Yours. Because he could. You are supposed to be borrowing, not them!
And the beauty of the deal: no one is responsible. Because everyone is drinking the same Kool-Aid.
Last year, ladies and gentlemen, 40% of all corporate profits came from financial services. Not production, not anything remotely to do with the needs of the American public.
The truth is we are all part of it now. Banks, consumers, we’re moving the money around in circles. We take a buck, we shoot it full of steroids and we call it leverage. I call it steroid banking.
Now I have been considered a pretty smart guy when it comes to finance, and maybe I was in prison too long, but sometimes it is the only place to stay sane, and look out from the bars and say, hey is everybody out there nuts?
It is clear as a bell to those who pay attention. The mother of all evil is speculation. Leverage debt. The bottom line: it’s borrowing to the hilt. And I hate to tell you this, but it is a bankrupt business model.
It won’t work. It is systemic, malignant and it’s global. Like cancer. It’s a disease. And we got to fight back. How we going to do that? How we are going to leverage that disease back in our favor?