We are six weeks from the release of the film Wall St. Money Never Sleeps, yet Gordon Gekko has been alive and well over the last 22 years. Anthony Scaramucci has written a great book about the personality complex of greed and envy in Goodbye Gordon Gekko, based upon his life experiences, from his salad days at Goldman Sachs to his current role of CEO and Founder of SkyBridge Capital.
I always thought that Gekko (and Bud Fox for that matter) was a weak man. He made bad choices, mostly because he had no sense of who he was. He had no confidence in himself outside his dealmaking. If you took away the deal, what did he have spiritually? [FYI - I am also someone who threw Liar's Poker out of a 12-story window the window, not because of the writing, but because I thought the protagonists were a**holes and they were not the least bit interesting as people. There is no room for machismo nor bravado on a trading floor, nor on Wall St.]
Scaramucci is an example of the flip side of Gekko. With great candor, he dissects his own life and the choices he had to make in the balance between being a Capitalist and a moral human being.
Scaramucci on Capitalism:
“This is a fantastic country. We have great core values and we are benevolent country. We believe in free will and the capitalist spirit. If you read Karl Marx, greed will consume itself, ultimately because of the design of capitalism. I think we are smarter than that and I think with the right social programs and the right core values, we can overcome that.”
On Financial Reform:
“We are wired for risk. We are built on speculation. I bet your relatives came to the US poor. Why else would they have left? We need to dial down the envy and the greed – the animal spirits – which ultimately hurt us. Gekko was a great striver…a great believer in class mobility. But the the ability to hurt others like Bud Fox…people do not like it. Some can watch Gekko on screen and they can walk out of the theater enamored and others are repulsed.”
Here is a particularly interesting exchange in the podcast:
Michael Martin: Why doesn’t the US have its own Sovereign Wealth Fund?
Anthony Scaramucci: That’s a good question. This is not a Democratic or Republican response. There has been a crisis in our political leadership. These funds are set up for the beneficiaries of the future generations of our America. The political class in our country has made a decision to absorb treasure from future generations and reward current voters. We are in a society where we are over-consuming and under-producing.
“I challenge the political class to think about what they are doing and how they will be reflected upon 200 years from now. This is an indictment of both parties about where we are as a nation. There has been 9 or 10 generations since the signing of the Declaration of Independence that have passed a higher living standard to the next generation. We are dropping the baton. It’s not clear to me that there will be the class mobility. It’s not clear to me that we will be leaving a higher living standard for the next generation. It’s being driven by the political leadership and it has to be stopped. ”