More on Wall Street

24 July 2009 at 8:53 am Leave a comment

| Peter Klein |

Further to my recent Wall Street post, see Jeff Tucker’s take, “Capitalism as Drama”:

In the same way that the Godfather movies shaped the culture of organized crime, Wall Street continues to influence the way traders and high-flying capitalists understand themselves.

And it’s no wonder. The impression one is left with is all about the courage, the thrill of the fight, the riskiness of entrepreneurship, that struggle to obtain vast wealth, and the striving for the status of “master of the universe.” It pictures commerce as a gladiator fight, a magnificent and relentless struggle for progress, an epoch and massively important terrain in which the fate of civilization is determined.

Enticing isn’t it? Indeed it is and should be. Not all of commercial life is like this but parts of it are. And some features are universals that don’t just apply to high finance. Everywhere and always, the future is uncertain. Those who make good judgments are rewarded. It isn’t easy. It isn’t for the faint of heart. Competition can be as fierce in a small business setting as in a big business one. Even the tiniest shop faces a daily risk, and this risk affects decision making in every area. Contrary to what Gekko claims, there is no sure thing, even with inside knowledge and even with all the wealth of the world. Indeed, Gekko is ultimately undone by forgetting that there might be someone out there with even better information.

The thing that levels the playing field in this rivalry in the service of society is the ubiquitous reality that no one really knows for sure what is around the corner. And in the end, whether you win or lose depends on that fickle and uncontrollable thing called consumer volition and its confrontation with the other undeniable reality of scarcity in all things.

Jeff also discusses the novels of Garet Garett, which have the same spirit.

NB: I’m worried about the Wall Street sequel, in which a rehabilitated Gordon Gekko tries to warn society about an upcoming financial disaster. Sounds suspicious.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Ephemera.

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