September 21st, 2010
04:57 PM GMT
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New York City (CNN) – Twenty-three years ago Oliver Stone introduced us to the notion that greed is good. Or at least that is what his villainous character Gordon Gekko famously told a group of shareholders in “Wall Street.” For the sequel it is “banksters” that Stone shines a bright light on.

“What Gekko was doing in the 1980s became legitimate in the 2000s,” he explains. “The banks became Gekko. The Securities and Exchange Commission did nothing, these buccaneers, these pirates – 'banksters' you could call them - were running rampant, selling junk securities to the world. There is a lack of trust between us and the banking class, we’ll never trust them again.”

Known for his thorough research, Stone and his stars once again immersed themselves in the subject. They spent months talking to Wall Street insiders who explained the complex world of derivatives and credit default swaps. Shia LaBeouf, who stars as the young hero of the movie Jake Moore, even passed his Series 7 exam and is a licensed dealer broker.

Though critical of the actions of banks during the crisis, Stone is not completely anti-Wall Street.

“My father was a stock broker for 50 years,” he says. “ think there is a reason for free markets. Markets do define things, they distribute well. At the end of the day we need some version of Wall Street to work… The system has to be reformed.”

I talked to Stone just hours before the film’s New York premiere and it was clear that two decades after the success of the first Wall Street, he is still passionate about finance. “The 2008 crash was like a triple by-pass to capitalism and everything is in question.”

In our interview he talks about the lust for money, the damage this episode has done, leadership in Washington. But the most interesting part for me was our discussion about Shia LaBeouf’s character Jake Moore and whether it is possible to be truly ethical and rise to the top in business.

You can see what Stone says in the video above - but I want know what you think?

Can good guys rise to the top in finance or do you have to be part shark to swim with them? Can the Gordon Gekko’s of the world truly reform?



soundoff (18 Responses)
  1. hahaha

    no – as long as there are beautiful women and nice material things people want to buy, and not everyone can have – apparently – there will be crime

    September 21, 2010 at 5:37 pm |
  2. silencedogood

    I find it patently ridiculous that CNN views Oliver Stone, however great an artist he may be, as someone who can speak authoritatively on financial issues.

    It would be refreshing if at least some of the responsibility for the financial crisis were accurately attributed to the irresponsible borrowers who knew (or should have) that they couldn't have afforded the mortgages they were seeking, or, government which applied pressure on banks to lend to them. Without those two factors no amount of banker greed would have resulted in the collapse we saw.

    September 21, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
  3. marietta

    It takes a spirit free of karmas to reach the top stainless without being detected by the watchfull eyes of the corrupt.

    September 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm |
  4. mj

    wall street has not change its spots......
    every major recession has been caused by wall street.....

    September 21, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
  5. Steve Thompson

    The Wall Streeters are already practising "business as usual". In a Bloomberg article back in June 2010, it stated that the five biggest Wall Street banks were on a hiring binge after reporting combined net income of $16.2 billion in Q1 2010. Some companies have already increased their pay packages by 30 to 40 percent in order to lure employees from one bank to another. With potential employees having more and more opportunities for employment on Wall Street, some firms are already back to offering multi-million salaries and guaranteed bonuses that are paid whether or not an employee or a company performs well just like the system did prior to the Great Recession. What is particularly galling is that these same Wall Street bankers/traders who created the problems for Main Street are the ones who are now benefitting once again from the system that resulted in long term unemployment for nearly 15 million Americans.

    Apparently, in the dictionary under "moral hazard", Webster's should post a photo of Wall Street.

    http://viableopposition.blogspot.com/

    September 21, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
  6. toddsaed

    Greed is good, black is white, but maybe it is just learning,
    now at the intermediate stage, nothing good or bad about it, and when the advanced state is reached, it could be seen there is no problem, the body gets uncomfortable thoughts from its suffering, but the real Being, the pure soul and spirit that is the higher reality is not that body or suffering, Kuchinich and others point out that these economic blunders have other roots, mainly misdirected military spending. To read another slant on the non problematic future, check out Sexual Tennis for Yogis at lulu.com, describing the likely positive outcomes of third wave economies, and liberated living in the future, where liberation is routine, and daily life is freed.

    September 21, 2010 at 11:54 pm |
  7. Dr Philosophical

    I NEVER thought I would share any thoughts in common with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but when he says that capitalism has "caused the suffering of countless women, men and children in so many countries" he is absolutely right. Capitalism is an amoral philosophical concept which begets misery. Let's abandon it altogether and find a more intelligent, more Green, more compassionate way of moving forward.

    September 22, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  8. moose

    silencedogood: How about people who rushed into buying houses seeing their prices climb and increasingly out of reach?? Why wasn't house price increase counted as inflation (its basic need, besides food and water), and rather an asset which can be resold for great gains?
    Rising house prices drove up the price of rent too, making things unaffordable for a lot of people, and they were forced to take risky mortgages to avoid rising rents and 'gamble' on rising 'asset' prices!. It all boils down to poor government policies, and low interest rates by the federal reserve. Place the blame where its due and not the people who got duped!!

    September 22, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  9. a m pilaro

    Gekko exists everywhere , in every corporate head office , in every private company , in every political party, the killer instinct to rise to the top sadly exists at all levels in our societyl

    September 22, 2010 at 9:08 am |
  10. Greg Gilbert

    Can Hollywood change its spots? Greed is good! Look at everything around you. It was built on the motivation of greed. Even charities are funded by a system thats motivator is greed. Of course it contirbutes to some bad things sometimes. Its such a powerful motivator for work it even makes things we don't want to happen.

    September 22, 2010 at 11:07 am |
  11. TPap

    Capitalism has reached an impasse ( cul-de-sac) and so has democracy. It's nice to say that until we find something better we should stay with them but it seems that falling off a cliff does not have its bright moments.

    September 22, 2010 at 12:01 pm |
  12. Oladipo Omole

    Maggie darling,
    I don't believe you have to be crooked to rise to the top in finance. In fact , I think that would be suicidal, because you need to build public trust around your business and your personality.History is replete with this tendency and I think this is one of the values that built the US, the UK and the rest of the G8. You see the business community needs an element of trust between them and the people they serve. That's why they thrive.
    P.S I love you
    It's me ,
    Oladipo

    September 22, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
  13. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Maggie darling,
    I must say top of the morning to you.I've had a rather exciting week. Much better than ever before and this morning especially, I watched an interesting and exciting presentation on GOLD.In graduate school I learned that it's good investment, but just how good, I wasn't sure until this morning when I watched a presentation on CNNMoney.Gold is about the safest investment one could ever make besides stocks and real estate and it seems it's insulated against inflation too.Sometimes I feel quite puerile when I talk about money, but I can hardly do without talking and thinking about it and I guess anybody worth his salt is like that too.
    Well darling , I must say it's been another wonderful opportunity to talk with you and I sincerely hope you're not bored with my monologues(?).I'm quite compelled to write you every time I feel like.
    I love you darling...always.
    Affectionately,
    Oladipo

    October 2, 2010 at 2:07 am |
  14. Oladipo Akinyemi Omole

    Maggie darling,
    The Willink Minorities Commission Report, Niger Delta And Nigeria
    In the years preceding 1919, life in Nigeria in Hobbesian phraseology was nasty, brutish and short.According to Peter Ekeh, the Fulani and the Hausa in the North dominated the affairs in the region and persecuted the Tivs and several other minorities.In the West,the Yorubas held sway and were hostile to the Urhobo and Benin especially while in the East, the Igbo maltreated the Ibiobio and other minorities.In essence there was widespread fear and trepidation among such demographically smaller groups as he put it.
    All the constitutions promulgated between 1919 and 1954 seemed unworkable in alleviating the situation as nationalists would brook no talk of compromise.They rejected the constitutional arrangements one after the other on frivolous grounds.
    Given this state of affairs, the British Imperial Government appointed the Willink Minorities Commission to address the plight of the minorities in the entire geographical entity known as Nigeria .
    At the time Sir Willinks submitted his recommendations in a document now widely known as the Willink Minorities Commission Report in 1958, it was superb .It formed the basis for addressing the plight of minorities in the Middle Belt ,the South-west and feudalism and other unwholesome practices in the North.Some historians submit that the state creation exercise under the Gowon Regime between 1967 and 1975(?) was expedient to pull the carpet off Colonel Odimegwu Ojukwu's feet as he was between 1967 and 1970 leading a secession attempt,but it's not far-fetched to submit that the exercise was in recognition of the need to placate minorities.Subsequently, seven states were added by the late General Ramat Muritala Mohammed regime to make 19 states and much later additional states were created.Today Nigeria has 30 states.
    Now there's a semblance of representative government despite maladministration which is rife in Nigeria and there are courts.It's not likely many would agree that there are still minorities in Nigeria.What some inaccurately describe as minorities are settlers and migrants whose rights under the prevailing laws of the land and the constitution are to a reasonable extent guaranteed and protected.Much better than the pre-1919 era.
    However there's an unfortunate tendency for terrorists and other impostors in the Niger Delta Region to lay claims to the Willinks Commission Recommendations as a basis for their destructiveness and mayhem over the years.This is wrong and patently unjust and it shouldn't continue.The whole of Nigeria is victim of pollution, inefficient water supply mechanism (which has resulted in lack of potable water in most cases in Nigeria),inadequate and insufficient power generation and supply mechanism, poor road network and lack of other basic infrastructure,backward and insufficiently funded education sector etc.
    Given this scenario only MEND and other tributaries of terror in the Niger-Delta Region of Nigeria understand the basis or the rationale of their destructiveness.

    October 8, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  15. Andy M.

    Just watched your report on MGM Maggie, and it's LIBRARY not libary.

    October 13, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
  16. Shota

    As always, you're great Maggie!

    RE: What the Gekkos did?

    Before the current financial crisis commercial banks were taking credit card applications without checking the incomes of the applicants. In most cases they did not even require the signatures of the applicants for credit accounts. In order to get credit cards approved by credit card departments, many bankers (Gekkos) used electronic applications to enter the incomes of applicants that was more than 400% of the ones stated by customers. In the end, bankers received profits for their approved credit cards and customers were left with high limit credit cards that was impossible to handle based on their real incomes.

    Same happened with mortgage applications. Many mortgage companies didn't take in the account the actual incomes of the applicants, but instead took incorrect applications and sold them to investment banks. Mortgage corporations' CEOs and their employees made a lot of money while this business lasted, but the customers were left with high monthly payments and in foreclosures. Unfortunately, little can be done about the CEOs and other executives of those companies that took the applications, because they were under "the corporation umbrella." What defense do we have against these former executives if they create other mortgage corporations? And we all know that they will.

    Shota
    http://www.ranxem.com

    P.S. Even today, many big banks do not require your signature on your credit card application.

    October 13, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
  17. TPap

    Obviously Mr. Stone knows his stuff. Business is war and the players are anything from Generals on down the line. If you aren't tough, the steam roller is going over you. Just imagine how awesome it is for China to act as an economy where decisions are made almost by decree. Western societies are structured around people and corporations that make such huge decisions or smaller ones but usually levelled on ones greed and beliefs.

    I wish I could have seen some of these people (that destroyed our livelyhoods) go to jail but I haven't seen winners go to jail or reprimanded. Only losers are dragged in the dust.. and that's the general population....PRAGMATICALLY!

    November 15, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  18. Clenbuterol

    Hello everybody! I do not know where to begin but hope this business.blogs.cnn.com will be useful for me.

    December 4, 2011 at 8:39 am |

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