I watched the ‘The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)’ on Saturday night with Bryan and Gary. The movie is quite a spectacle of excessive partying, drug use (abuse), sex and money worship .. and getting away with it for the most part. It is by most accounts an accurate depiction of stockbroker Jordan Belfort’s rise and fall in the 90’s. Today Belfort owes $100 million in restitution, of which he has paid some $10 million. (Paling in comparison against fraudster Bernie Madoff’s $17 billion owed in restitution, though). Belfort spent only three years in prison.
So .. what to take away with from the movie? One assumes/ hopes the vast majority of Wall Street firms operate with much more integrity than that demonstrated in the movie! And have things gotten better after the 2008 financial crisis? I’m not so sure. The federal funds rate still sits at 0% almost six years later. Here in the USA, student loan debt has quadrupled to $1 billion over the last ten years. What is very clear is that each of us has to look out for our own money interests. ‘Socialism never took root in America,’ John Steinbeck wrote, ‘because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat, but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.’*
*Credit to Matt Zoller Seitz for mentioning the Steinbeck quote is his review of the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’.