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Gordon Gekko Reborn

In the 1987 film Wall Street, the character Gordon Gekko famously declared, “Greed is good,” before being packed off to prison. A generation later, the film's sequel – to be released next month – sees Gekko released from jail and returned to the financial world – a world in which greed, arrogance, and immorality remain untamed by adequate regulation.

NEW YORK – In the 1987 film Wall Street, the character Gordon Gekko famously declared, “Greed is good.” His creed became the ethos of a decade of corporate and financial-sector excesses that ended in the late 1980’s collapse of the junk-bond market and the Savings & Loan crisis. Gekko himself was packed off to prison.

A generation later, the sequel to Wall Street – to be released next month – sees Gekko released from jail and returned to the financial world. His reappearance comes just as the credit bubble fueled by the sub-prime mortgage boom is about to burst, triggering the worst financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression.

The “Greed is good” mentality is a regular feature of financial crises. But were the traders and bankers of the sub-prime saga more greedy, arrogant, and immoral than the Gekkos of the 1980’s? Not really, because greed and amorality in financial markets have been common throughout the ages.

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