Alec Baldwin, not Michael Douglas, will improve corporate ethics

Cormac Hollingsworth looks at the City's idols; for all that Wall Street is known in the real world, Glengarry Glen Ross is the real star piece.

 

Michael Douglas has made a public information broadcast for the FBI to tell Wall Street traders that insider trading is wrong.

Wall Street traders already know it’s wrong; the level of regulatory exams you have to go through to get onto a trading floor means you can’t fail to know.

There have also been plenty of successful recent convictions for the crime, so presumably the FBI’s aim is at prospective jurors who may get a little confused about what is insider trading.

But where are the convictions for the subprime crash?

It’s only the work of NGOs such as Better Markets that has challenged the US government’s no-blame settlement with large banks like Citibank.

Part of the problem is that it is one of ethics rather than criminality, the sliding scale of moral blindness embodied in caveat emptor.

So, as it’s a Friday, I thought I’d share the truest cinematic portrayal of the problems in our financial system. Because on those quiet Friday afternoons on our trading floor, YouTube clips from “Wall Street” were never used as part of training the juniors.

But David Mamet’s blistering monologue at the beginning of Glengarry Glen Ross delivered brilliantly by Alec Baldwin often was. And it’s the “Always Be Closing” that is at the heart of both how to succeed on a trading floor, and our current problems in finance.

Occupy need to ask Alec Baldwin to do their film. Maybe David Mamet will do the script.

See also:

The government’s ‘transparency’ is clear as mudTamasin Cave, January 23rd 2012

How bankers’ bonuses are contributing to the new credit crunchCormac Hollingsworth, December 6th 2011

Everything you know about the ‘Thatcherite consensus’ is wrongStewart Lansley, October 6th 2011

A blueprint for real banking sector reformShezal Laing and William Cass, February 15th 2011

A year of economic uncertainty lies aheadWill Straw, December 27th 2010

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