Financial Education For The Masses, A Movie, Or Both?

Last night I was fortunate enough to put my waiting to an end and go to the movies to see the new Wall Street film - Money Never Sleeps.

Clearly, I am a financial buff, so loved the original and frankly, I enjoyed this follow up as well. It may not turn out to have quite the same impact on society as the first film did, but well worth the admission fee anyway. I watched the film with a female friend that has not seen the original and is no financial expert, and she enjoyed it lots as well. Highly recommended.

Once again Oliver Stone is trying to do something with a financial film. In this movie, Gordon Gekko has several opportunities to explain elements of the financial meltdown of 2008. One presumes that Stone has strong opinions on just how the world economy functions (or not as the case may be) and he uses the slimey charachter of Gekko to make his points. And what points they are!

If Gekko thinks things are rotten, how bad must they really be?

Gekko lays the blame on the collapse of the financial system on everyone. On all of our greed to want something for nothing and being willing to remortgage their homes for that right. This ‘greed’ and lazyness is highlighted by Susan Sarandon, playing the mother of another central character. She has moved from nursing into property speculation, is losing mountains of money, needs bailouts of her own and refuses to go back to work and get a ‘real job’.

Much of the firm centres around the events of 2008 and the fall of an investment bank that seems to share a remarkable number of similarities with Lehman Brothers. Meetings - now famous - held over the weekend as banks were unable to borrow and roll over their liabilities (thus facing instant bankruptcy) between the Fed and Wall Street big shots were eye-opening, even though they were shown as reported. Of course, the names had been changed to protect the guilty…

The film also contains some interesting pointers towards green and low carbon energy generation and away from ‘big oil’. Again, it isn’t difficult to spot Stone’s agenda.

Hopefully, this film will be able to get across some important elements of basic financial education to a very wide audience and in a powerful way. If you are a regular reader of financial blogs and columns, you won’t learn much. In that case, just enjoy the movie.


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