Wall Street 2 and Greed is Good

When I was 13 years old I watched a movie with my dad called Wall Street starring Martin Sheen, Charlie Sheen, and Michael Douglas.  I didn’t understand a lot of it, but I did know that it made me want to work in finance – badly.  Of course, Michael J. Fox’s character on the TV show Family Ties (Alex P. Keaton) had already been a huge influence himself in this regard (particularly as it pertained to the briefcase I brought to elementary school and the ties and sweater vests I frequently wore even when I was 8 years old).  Since the time I saw that movie with my dad over 23 years ago I have probably re-watched it over 25 times, at one point being able to practically recite the movie from start to finish.  Today, the sequel to the movie comes out (Wall Street 2).  I have a feeling it may not end up being a very good movie, but I don’t care.  It is deeply nostalgic and fun to think about the iconic influences that drove me into the kind of interests I have.  So here’s to hoping the movie is fun (I will be there at 3:45 pm today, having had my tickets for over a week).  And here’s to hoping that 23 years from now a whole bunch of other people have a passion for the wonders of the capital markets and all they represent in making the financial goals of clients come true!  There is no capitalism without capital markets, and there are no capital markets without financial advisors.  

Perhaps this movie will be so obvious in its lambasting of Wall Street that it will not do what its predecessor did, which, while trying to lambast Wall Street, accidentally made a generation of people (this author included) absolutely fascinated by the world of high finance.  “Greed is good” may sound too crass for an untrained audience.  But as Adam Smith taught us in the 1776 masterpiece, Wealth of Nations, self-interest makes the world turn – a moral and virtuous self-interest – that results in the exchange of goods and services, the expansion of the total wealth pie, and the lifting out of poverty of an entire generation of people.  The “greed is good” camp has helped over 1 billion people come out of abject poverty in the last generation.  The “command and control” camp has robbed countless people of dignity and ambition.  I know what side of history I am betting on.