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The New "Wall Street" Film

Michael Douglas is back as Gordon Gekko in “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” We see if greed is still good.

Michael Douglas and Shia LaBeouf in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" (Courtesy of 20th Century FOX)

Greed is good, Gordon Gekko told the world, in Oliver Stone’s 1987 Hollywood hit, “Wall Street.” 

That was then. Flash forward twenty years, to the eve of the great meltdown, and greed was God. 

In Stone’s new film, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” Michael Douglas is back as Gordon Gekko. Gekko’s out of prison. And the world, Wall Street, are going to hell in a hand basket. 

Shia LeBeouf is there. And Josh Brolin. Many billions. And it’s still hard to take your eyes away.

-Tom Ashbrook


A.O. Scott, chief film critic for the New York Times. Read his review of “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”

Roger Lowenstein, contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and former reporter for the Wall Street Journal. He is author of “When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management” and “Buffett: The Making of an American Capitalist.” His new book is “The End of Wall Street.”

Todd Thomson, founder & CEO of Headwaters Capital LLC, a financial investing and consulting firm.


Link to the film’s trailer on YouTube. And see the movie’s home site.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Sam E.

    If you get a chance, could you ask the guests how the capitalsim in WS II compares to the capitalism potrayed in the Social Network?

  • Dave

    Good Day,

    Could you ask Mr Lowenstein to comment briefly on F.A. Hayek, and the Austrian school of Economics, and in particular whether he believes whether our economy leading up the crash was more Keynsian, or Austrian Libertarian in his opinion?

    Thank you!

    Our ongoing discussion from Friday’s show, seems right On Point for today:


  • michael

    This movie will probably have to keep things simple, i went to see “The Other Guys” and they threw out a bunch of jokes about wall street where many people had no clue what they were talking about nor what the SEC does.

  • michael

    “Could you ask Mr Lowenstein to comment briefly on F.A. Hayek, and the Austrian school of Economics, and in particular whether he believes whether our economy leading up the crash was more Keynsian, or Austrian Libertarian in his opinion?”

    Since Keynsian economics were not used/favored by the previous administration or the former Fed Reserve top man Alan Greenspan it’s highly doubtful if not zero chance that Keynsian economics caused the collaspe.

    Greenspan also noted that “he thought the market will always correct it self”(more in line with Hayek)

    But you can find many of the failures of Hayek ideas used by the previous administration mind you maybe not to the fullest extent.

  • Dave

    As I’m sure it will come up, I just hope we can realize that while corrupt, illegally-channeled greed is NOT good, Self-interest channeled by laws and limits that reflect the kind of civil society we want is just fine.

    A managed fire keeps us warm, lights our way, and cooks our food. An out of control blaze consumes us all. But we don’t get rid of fire altogether.

    Look forward to enjoying the lighter side of things too this hour.

  • Peter Goldsmith



  • Peter Goldsmith



  • greg draiss

    biggest thing I see is that in the 1980′s version the amount of money Gecko mentioned was $50 to $100 million.
    That amount of money on Wall Street is a pittance compared to the buy outs and arbitrage going on today

  • John

    Still rings true after 33 years…

    Pink Floyd’s 1977 Animals

    Pigs (Three Different Ones) (Waters) 11:26 

    First verse:
    Big man, pig man, ha ha charade you are.

    You well heeled big wheel, ha ha charade you are.

    And when your hand is on your heart,

    You’re nearly a good laugh,
    Almost a joker,
With your head down in the pig bin,

    Saying “Keep on digging.”
Pig stain on your fat chin.

    What do you hope to find.

    When you’re down in the pig mine.

    You’re nearly a laugh,
You’re nearly a laugh
But you’re really a cry.

  • http://challenginglachesis.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I’m pretty sure the stumble of 2008 was just a prelude. Oli might have blown his load early on this one, which would explain why reviewers are saying the movie is such a let down.

  • BHA

    The last caller is right. NO morality. NO sense of right. Just because there IS money to be made doesn’t mean it is OK to get it for yourself no matter who is hurt.

    And he is also right about the people who are paid to do nothing other than circumvent any controls on the system. Same is true of a lot of rich people and their lawyers and accountants. As long as they hide more money from taxation with loopholes and dubious activities than they cost, they are doing their job.

  • Robert

    Thanks for the info-mercial!

    -really gets us to the point of American culture, economics, and politics…
    -keep the public entertained, distracted, and ignorant of how unfair, dis-functional, and unsustainable our system has become.

  • Bob Sonne

    I can not keep listening to this program because your guests just keep stuttering.

  • Dave Eger

    Pigs on the Wing is a good tune, but it’s quite heavy handed. I have to say I prefer their earlier songs like Bike.

  • suzanne

    Two things:

    Don’t you see the irony of Oliver Stone making millions from money invested in his movie about Wall Street?

    Second, compare and contrast the money grabbers in “The Town”–different class of guys but same “money moving” at the expense of greater society.

  • BHA

    Mr. Thompson’s (I think) comment about the ‘creativity’ needed to make money on Wall Street is PAINFUL. The word ‘Creativity’ on Wall Street is another way to say “Game the System for personal profit”. Derivatives based on bad mortgages, sliced and diced to the point no one can track it is NOT creativity.

    Apparently the creativity they DON’T have is the ‘creativity’ it takes to put together derivatives based on solid loans. NOT sliced and diced and spread all over the place.

    And I take issues with the claim that ‘the average American’ was flipping houses. No, SOME relatively FEW people did it. And yes it was based on ‘make a quick buck greed’. And they helped rip the housing market apart in several parts of the country. Caught in the middle were the REAL average Americans just trying to buy a house to LIVE IN. They ended up underwater on their loans and lost their houses.

    Thanks Flippers, Thanks Wall Street.

  • Dave

    Accept the reality of Self-Interest

    Develop a legal framework to protect from the excesses of self interest.

    Otherwise allow self-interest to push advances and new ideas and productivity as it always had and will.

    Punish those who break the laws.

    Remove from elected office those who refuse to enforce the laws.

    Don’t fall for Utopian plans that offer all our hopes and dreams by an unproven system other than individual judgement, freedom and initiative.

    Stay vigilant.

  • Bruce

    Do you really think corporations are anything other than sociopathic organizations bent on externalizing costs and maximizing profits?

    I think that it is safe to assume any company with more than 30-40 employees is only concerned with the perpetuation of its own existence and maximizing profits for its owners. Anything else that might benefit society is completely incidental to the money-making process.

    Gekko recognizes the fact and plays the game better than most.

  • Dave

    “Do you really think corporations are anything other than sociopathic organizations bent on externalizing costs and maximizing profits?”

    They are what they are. If they break laws, throw them in jail. If we need other laws, get them passed.

    Harnessed self-interest and the Rule of Law. History has never done better.

    Of course if we don’t keep track of our laws, their enforcement, and our political classes who benefit from the corruption of the status quo, we end up with a mess.

    But that’s our own negligence. Not the fault of of a competitive market model.

    Their is a socialist alternative if you want to try that.

  • Nick

    The problem w/dramatizing the 2008 credit-default swap/short betting/near financial collapse, is that the truth will be diluted.

    A documentary would be much more direct + disturbing, such as Enron: the smartest guys in the room; Moore’s documentaries; The Cove (that reveals the needless + senseless killing of Dolphins in Taiji, Japan); FLOW (reveals that the bottled spring water industry is emptying natural aquafers + making huge $ profits w/out paying for the water they’re taking); King Korn; Maxed Out (re. the credit card companies); Who Killed the Electric Car (re. GM’s late 1990s battery-operated car, that never made it into major manufaction).

  • Marc

    W, Nixon, JFK, Any Given Sunday – with these to his credit, does anyone expect Oliver Stone to make something that’s an accurate portrayal of a situation? He’s an entertainer, it’s a movie, so though I haven’t seen it yet, I expect he’s going to pick out elements of truth and exaggerate them to an extreme. However, it will feed into the mistaken perception that all corporations are bad, all Wall Street types are devils and the people who are not part of these groups but got hurt, are helpless, innocent victims at best or dupes at worst.

    That said, the culture of Wall Street is about making money, and they are smarter than 95% of the people outside of Wall Street (which is very sad esp. when you see the potential for people they recruit), but they’re no more evil than the vast majority of people who are also trying to make money; and no less moral.

    Unfortunately, those who see this as more than a movie, will have their biases reinforced and instead of seeing all the moving parts that made the financial disaster, will find a simple conclusion – corporations and Wall Street are bad.

    I don’t blame Stone for this. I never heard him claim that his movies were accurate. But he knows his craft and does tell a great story.

  • Lon C Ponschock

    @Peter Goldsmith,

    It’s a movie. Seconded.

    Good suit, nice hair. Big deal. Stone’s more important work is the documentary “South Of The Border.”

    But staying on point another film about rich people sort of in the vein of “The Color Of Money (because everyone wanted another “The Hustler”) brings to mind the old saying:

    “You can’t make a souffle rise twice.”

  • Dave

    “Since Keynsian economics were not used/favored by the previous administration or the former Fed Reserve top man Alan Greenspan it’s highly doubtful if not zero chance that Keynsian economics caused the collaspe.” Michael

    Actually we have been going Keynsian for a long time…..

    Here’s a book arguing against the Keynsian (status quo) case:



    “John Maynard Keynes died in 1946, but his thinking continues to dominate world economic policy. Bushonomics, Obamanomics, and the policies of the U.S. Federal Reserve have all ultimately been derived from Keynes’s book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money, usually referred to as Keynes’s General Theory or The General Theory.

    What does Keynesian economics tell us about the Crash of 2008? First that crashes are an inevitable part of Capitalism—they reflect what Keynes called the “animal spirits” of private markets. Second that the Crash creates a downward spiral that feeds on itself. If Keynesian remedies are not promptly applied, there may be no economic recovery. These remedies, the essence of Keynesianism, include the U.S. Federal Reserve printing money and lowering interest rates, bailouts, and economic stimulus through deficit spending.

    Where Keynes Went Wrong demystifies Keynesian economics. It reveals what John Maynard Keynes really said. And it offers a startling and persuasive argument that Keynesianism is leading us down a path not to genuine economic recovery, but to inflation, bubbles, and crashes.”

  • michael

    actually we have been going Keynsian for a long time,
    Here’s a book arguing against the Keynsian (status quo)

    But wait,

    Ronald Reagan at his time listed Hayek as among the 2 or 3 people who most influenced his philosophy, and welcomed Hayek to the White House as a special guest. In the 1970s and 1980s the writings of Hayek were also a major influence on many of the leaders of the velvet revolution in Central Europe during the collapse of the old Soviet Empire. Here are some supporting examples

    Odd Reagan would who Hayek influenced so not take any of his advice let your trying to present?


  • michael

    As well,

    “Hayek disapproved strongly of the notion of ‘social justice’. He compared the market to a game in which ‘there is no point in calling the outcome just or unjust’[48] and argued that ‘social justice is an empty phrase with no determinable content’;[49] likewise ‘the results of the individual’s efforts are necessarily unpredictable, and the question as to whether the resulting distribution of incomes is just has no meaning”

    Disapprove of social justice? sounds kind of hardcore republican

    But he does care(a little at-least)

    “However, Hayek was prepared to tolerate ‘some provision for those threatened by the extremes of indigence or starvation, be it only in the interest of those who require protection against acts of desperation on the part of the needy”

    again kind of sounds like a hardcore republican

  • michael

    Man there’s more,

    “Harvard economist and former Harvard University President Lawrence Summers explains Hayek’s place in modern economics this way : “What’s the single most important thing to learn from an economics course today? What I tried to leave my students with is the view that the invisible hand is more powerful than the [un]hidden hand. Things will happen in well-organized efforts without direction, controls, plans. That’s the consensus among economists. That’s the Hayek legacy.”[57]”

    “Hayek received new attention in the 1980s and 1990s with the rise of conservative governments in the United States, United Kingdom, and Canada. After winning the 1979 election, Margaret Thatcher appointed Keith Joseph, the director of the Hayekian Centre for Policy Studies, as her secretary of state for industry in an effort to redirect parliament’s economic strategies. Likewise, David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s most influential financial official in 1981 was an acknowledged follower of Hayek.[63]”

    “A common term in much of the world for what Hayek espoused is “neoliberalism””

    Which neo-liberalism attempts and actions can be seen back in the Reagan Administration who Hayek had a part in.

  • michael

    Critics on the left sometimes refer to neoliberalism as the “American Model,” and they make the claim that it promotes low wages and high inequality.[102] According to the economists Howell and Diallo (2007), neoliberal policies have contributed to a U.S. economy in which 30% of workers earn “low wages” (less than two-thirds the median wage for full-time workers), and 35% of the labor force is “underemployed”; only 40% of the working-age population in the U.S. is considered adequately employed. The Center for Economic Policy Research’s (CEPR) Dean Baker (2006) has argued that the driving force behind rising inequality in the U.S. has been a series of deliberate, neoliberal policy choices including anti-inflationary bias, anti-unionism, and profiteering in the health industry.[103] However, countries have applied neoliberal policies at varying levels of intensity; for example, the OECD has calculated that only 6% of Swedish workers are beset with wages it considers low, and that Swedish wages are overall lower due to their lack of neoliberal policies [104] John Schmitt and Ben Zipperer (2006) of the CEPR have analyzed the effects of intensive Anglo-American neoliberal policies in comparison to continental European neoliberalism, concluding “The U.S. economic and social model is associated with substantial levels of social exclusion, including high levels of income inequality, high relative and absolute poverty rates, poor and unequal educational outcomes, poor health outcomes, and high rates of crime and incarceration. At the same time, the available evidence provides little support for the view that U.S.-style labor-market flexibility dramatically improves labor-market outcomes. Despite popular prejudices to the contrary, the U.S. economy consistently affords a lower level of economic mobility than all the continental European countries for which data is available

  • michael

    Notable critics of neoliberalism in theory or practice include economists Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Robert Pollin,[106] linguist Noam Chomsky,[107] geographer David Harvey,[7] and the alter-globalization in general, including groups such as ATTAC. Critics of neoliberalism argue that not only is neoliberalism’s critique of socialism (as unfreedom) wrong, but neoliberalism cannot deliver the liberty that is supposed to be one of its strong points. Daniel Brook’s “The Trap” (2007), Robert Frank’s “Falling Behind” (2007), Robert Chernomas and Ian Hudson’s “Social Murder” (2007), and Richard G. Wilkinson’s “The Impact of Inequality” (2005) all claim high inequality is spurred by neoliberal policies and produces profound political, social, economic, health, and environmental constraints and problems. The economists and policy analysts at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) offer inequality-reducing social democratic policy alternatives to neoliberal policies. In addition, a significant opposition to neoliberalism has grown in Latin America. Prominent Latin American opponents include the Zapatista Army of National Liberation rebellion, the Brazilian MST, and the socialist governments of Venezuela, Bolivia and Cuba.

    According to (Pollin 2003), neoliberalism under the U.S. Bill Clinton administration– steered by Alan Greenspan and Robert Rubin– was the temporary and unstable policy inducement of economic growth via government-supported financial and housing market speculation, featuring both low unemployment and low inflation. He claims that this unusual coincidence was made possible by the disorganization and dispossession of the American working class. Santa Cruz history of consciousness professor Angela Davis and Princeton sociologist Bruce Western have claimed that the high rate (compared to Europe) of incarceration in the U.S. – specifically 1 in 37 American adults is in the prison system – heavily promoted by the Clinton administration, is the neoliberal U.S. policy tool for keeping unemployment statistics low, while stimulating economic growth through the maintenance of a contemporary slave population and the promotion of prison construction and “militarized policing.”[108] The Clinton Administration also embraced neoliberalism by pursuing international trade agreements that would benefit the corporate sector globally (normalization of trade with China for example). Domestically, Clinton fostered such neoliberal reforms as the corporate takeover of health care in the form of the HMO, the reduction of welfare handouts, and the implementation of “Workfare”.[109] Most mainstream scholars would argue, however, that Clinton’s policies were far from neo-liberal.

  • michael

    “Odd that Reagan would be influenced bu Hayek and not take any of his advice like your trying to present?

  • Joshua Hendrickson

    It’s hard to accept the argument that Keynesian theory had anything to do with our current financial woes, when Alan Greenspan, arguably the most influential economic figure of the last thirty years, was a disciple of Ayn Rand.

    I say, check out Marx’s analysis of economics. Even if the theory of communism is flawed (and it may well be) and the practice of communism is flawed (which it absolutely was), Marx’s analysis of capitalism is as clear and strong and vital today as it ever was. Even if Marx missed the boat on the issue of value, I would say that is due to the fact that value can never be anything but a subjective judgment–and that in a field entirely subjective to begin with.

  • twenty-niner

    “And I take issues with the claim that ‘the average American’ was flipping houses. No, SOME relatively FEW people did it. And yes it was based on ‘make a quick buck greed’.”

    I remember the housing bubble a little bit differently. As a renter, I remember being told (BY ALMOST EVERY HOMEOWNER I KNEW) that if I didn’t buy at the time I would be condemned to renting for the rest of my life. It was almost condescending the way home owners would talk to renters as if they were second-class citizens. I remember friends having Zillow parties, where they would take bets as to how much their houses had gone up in value over the previous month. I remember another guy who was moving every couple of years, getting huge tax-free profits with every sale, telling me he was on track to retire at 35. I remember a friend who bought a house, sight unseen, over his cell phone because he thought he was going to miss out on a deal; turns out the house was built on mud instead of a foundation and a lot of the plumbing was garden hose. But in the end, he sold the house to an even bigger sucker at a profit. I remember a friend who refinanced twice, who actually had no income at the time. I remember another unemployed guy who actually bought a house with no money down, who was sure he could flip it before the first mortgage payment was due. And I remember when it was clear that the whole house of cards was going to collapse very soon when I was propositioned by my barber, who I barely knew, into investing in a house with three other guys, who I didn’t know at all.


  • twenty-niner

    “I say, check out Marx’s analysis of economics. Even if the theory of communism is flawed (and it may well be) and the practice of communism is flawed (which it absolutely was)”

    I’ve read Marx; I found it interesting, but I didn’t agree with his conclusions. My takes is that capitalism is about goods and services, whereas communism is about workers.

    Capitalist systems produce a level of quality and innovation unmatched by communist systems, but do so in spite of workers. In fact, if the means of production could be completely automated, a capitalist system would happily eliminate all workers, leaving only entrepreneurs, financiers, and innovators as potential earners. In short, a capitalist system is awash in tons stuff that people crave to own, but only a percentage can really afford.

    A communist system, on the other hand, sort of freezes innovation at the point of inception, relying purely on government sanctioned researchers as the drivers of innovation. Contrast this with capitalism, where the carrot of wealth is dangled in front of anyone who can come up with the next big thing, or even small thing. This is how you get 22-year-old college drop out to spend endless days in a row in front of a computer monitor living on Skittles and Pepsi to a get a prototype out the door, all for no pay, and for the outside chance that that prototype could maybe payoff some day down the road.

    Communism is concerned with keeping everyone employed somehow, but even with a job and a little bit of money, the system doesn’t produce anything you’d really want to buy, unless of course, you can get your hands on some Levis from the capitalist system through your connection in Hungary.

  • Iggy-G

    There is in fact a reality based tale of the meltdown. it’s called MELTDOWN and is a documentary on CBC television. Fourth and last episode airs This week.

  • Mark S.

    Words fail me in adequately expressing my loathing and antipathy for Wall Street and the fantasy financial instruments (CDOs, Credit Default Swaps, Derivatives, etc.) that crashed the economy and threw millions out of work through no faults of their own. Good thing, too, because if I could think of the appropriate words I would probably be banned from this comment board for life..

  • http://www.markgwoodruff.com Mark Woodruff

    The lure of Wall Street is not that everyone will get rich. The lure is that *you* will get rich and everyone else will be poor.

    It’s about power: the power to replace the apples in the baby food with corn starch and high-fructose corn syrup, and the power to replace the glass with plastic. And when you become wealthy and powerful, you don’t fund research into obesity and cancer; you sell for-profit diet and cancer treatment centers and convince congress to pass laws that limit liability.

    It’s addictive. At some point, as a nation, we’ll either we’ll put the bottle and the cigarettes down, or die from a heart attack and cancer. But until that point, there’s money to be made…

  • Grady Lee Howard

    Mark Woodruff gave me the perfect introduction to make an ironic observation. With apologies to Michael Douglas and his family as they are mortal human beings just as I am, is it not appropriate that the person portraying Gordon Gekko is likely dying of throat cancer. Capitalism is a cruel sadistic scheme that strangles even the winners with its demeaning results.

    Thanks to michael for writing a textbook for listeners who are eager to learn, and to Josh for his seconding of that proposition.

    People can gain insight by studying Marx, Keynes and even Hayek but their work is all about a system that has failed us. If we don’t gain the imagination to create something new and more workable the human race is sunk. Instead of debating the past I’d like to see some practical solutions proposed. I may be too old but I’ll try to think of some as I comment on future shows.

    Yep, it’s only a movie, not real, and our fix is so much worse and more complex. Documentaries are great, but they only depict “what is.” Bob Kennedy was prescient in quoting Tennyson (To Seek a Newer World).
    If there ever was a time we needed to get beyond “seeing things as they are and asking why” and move on to “imagining better things as they never were, and asking why not” it is in this precarious age. If I fault filmmakers and the Obama administration and Congress and the Supreme Court for anything it is their refusal to entertain any imagination. Instead of making new clothes they tug at the old rags like a litter of crazy pups.

  • http://www.conventionusa.org John De Herrera

    The meltdown is a symptom. The problem in focus is that the US Congress repealed the Glass-Steagal Act in the late 1990s. The bigger picture from a step back is that the corporate interests which paid to coerce that repeal through the Congress knew what it would amount to and then helped members of Congress spin it into Too Big To Fail today.

    The Framers of the Constitution knew this would happen, as it’s happened before in the history of humanity, and so they placed a convention clause in their masterwork.

    If we held a federal convention today it would entail elections for delegates, and all the folks who say smart and true things in the comments sections on blogs like this could platform on such comments to be delegate.

    Whatever’s proposed at the Article V Convention of course means nothing unless 38 states agree to ratify. Could America ratify a 28th Amendment? That’s the wrong question: the question is what would the constitutional process of convoking and holding a convention do to the current status quo institutionalized and unaccountable corruption?

    I hope Tom does a segment on the pros and cons of the Article V Convention soon. If not, and you agree the Constitution is a shrewd law, then advocate for a federal convention. Try ConventionUSA-dot-ORG or FOAVC-dot-ORG

  • Dave

    Here’s a new vision….


  • Dave
  • http://none sam taranto

    Hollywood’s warped view of capitalism.
    Here is an NPR audio interview about this movie
    MONEY NEVER SLEEPS mocking Wall Street and capitalism, with a leftist Oliver Stone produced film, typical socialist and communist inspired films he has made over the decades. This is like the 1987 anti capitalist movie. What is NOT mentioned in these phony films is that businessmen do NOT control the market in the US and ONLY the Federal Reserve System (created in 1913) creates money and credit out of THIN AIR. The fed is a central bank that was promoted by MARX as a way to destroy capitalism. Since 1913, that group of “elitists” creates booms and busts, by printing excessive money or restricting money as they see fit. Because of the 29 crash, the fed has been given MORE power, when many economists claim it was the FED who caused the crash and the stock boom of the 20s and phony credit increase to buy stocks. The on going depression of the 30s was blamed on the 29 crash and capitalism, while the real cause, the federal reserve system was not even given any PR one way or the other. Films like this only spread more disinformation and hatred of our market system and promoting more socialism, much of which is now promoted by the socialist Democrats in power. Scary.

  • MJR

    Did anybody else find it kind of funny/ironic that Tom kept referring to film critic A.O. Scott as filmmaker Tony Scott?

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