Any minute now, news crews expect business men in $5,000 suits to start raining from the sky, having thrown themselves from the windows of their top-floor offices. But, in the land of movies, stock brokers are right up there with action stars as men of power, status and kick-ass haircuts. Here’s a list of 6 fictional market geniuses that could help us through the current financial catastrophe…if they were real.
[Note: Since we know movies and not stocks, we enlisted our friend Stephen (formerly of Wallstreetfighter.com) to give us his expert opinion on each entry. He has a tie and everything.]
Sure, it’s an obvious choice, but I couldn’t leave it off without looking like a complete tool. Michael Douglas played the money-loving scumbag to absolute perfection. The hair, the suspenders, the steak tar tar…all of it screamed, “I’m an elitist douche who cares more about money and appearances than anything else in the world.” It was perfection. On top of being great, this movie gets extra credit because it reminds us that Charlie Sheen wasn’t always “The chubbier guy from Two and a Half Men.
Wall Street Fighter says: This movie inspired a whole new dictionary of Wall Street slang. It practically wrote the book on how Wall Street types think they’re supposed to act. In particular, the blue dress shirt with the white collar that Douglas’ character wears throughout the movie is now simply referred to as ‘The Gekko’ on the Street. Used in a sentence – ‘Dude, the managing director might stop in, you better wear your effen Gekko today!’
He took his keen business sense, which he honed running a casino out of his house in Queens, NY, and turned it into an extremely successful run as a broker. He was good on the phone, got the girl and even managed to make friends with Vin Diesel along the way. The most impressive part is that he could sell stock to smart people for companies that didn’t even really exist. That takes hustle.
Wall Street Fighter says: Another reason this movie is great is because it really happened and it continues to be a stock scam people try and pull off. Boiler rooms are like the cream of the telemarketing crop. Instead of getting you to take a survey or change your long distance carrier, they’re literally stealing your life’s savings. Badass. Here’s a little tip that should be a no-brainer—never take an unsolicited phone call from a guy ‘with a hot stock tip’.
Using his keen sense of the common man, which he gained hustling people out of quarters by pretending to be a double amputee, Billy Ray made the Duk brothers a lot of money. Then, when he found out that they screwed him and his new pal (played by a still-skinny Dan Aykroyd), he took it all away with his sharp wit and a couple million dollars worth of frozen orange juice.
Wall Street Fighter says: Although there are some inaccuracies (you can’t really bribe your way into finding out what will happen in the orange juice market), Valentine’s scheme is still pretty brilliant in his execution of a successful multi-million-dollar short sell. This is similar to what a lot of the big shot hedge fund managers do in the stock market on a regular basis. There’s just something so sinister, yet so badass about making a big gamble on a business failing and being right.
He didn’t use instincts or insider tactics to try and get ahead in the market; he used pure mathematics. Just like any other method, it drove him completely insane and made him a bunch of enemies, but he definitely deserves credit for even attempting such an undertaking. Had it worked out in a less maddening fashion, he would’ve been able to completely take over the market without ever having to put on a suit. That’s something I, as a complete vagrant, can really admire.
Wall Street Fighter says: The stock market can be deciphered with a 216-digit number? Seems just as plausible as the idea of ‘an invisible hand’ controlling the ebb and flow of the market. Cohen was able to figure out the stock market by doing a couple of aneurysm-inducing calculations on his computer, while most traders toil away a lifetime trying to figure out why people don’t like Starbucks anymore. Now that’s a baller right there.
While we don’t really get to see Patrick do much actual business, it’s safe to assume that he knows what he’s doing. All those expensive dinners, hookers, power tools and body bags don’t come cheap you know, especially in New York City. Just having an extra apartment for murder is a luxury only guys who play their hands just right can afford. Plus, he (maybe) lives out all of the gruesome thoughts and dreams anyone who has ever slaved away in the pits has inevitably experienced at one point or another.
Wall Street Fighter says: Bateman’s anal retentiveness, his attention to trivial details, and his asshole demeanor as so accurate that it scares the crap out of Wall Street people. After seeing the movie, they’re all doing that nervous laugh where they go, “Imagine someone like us killing people. Ridiculous….right?!”. The business card scene (spoofed brilliantly by CHTV) in particular hits the nail on the head. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve seen dudes in suits bitching about the indecipherable differences in business card fonts, I’d have about 4 or 5 nickels.
Hollywood did some polishing to the story of Chris Gardner’s rise to rich guy status, but this movie is a good way to see what it’s like to work in the market if you don’t like seeing people curse and do blow. In fact, it’s more like a fairy tale than it is a story about the market, which might be just what the doctor orders for the guys who lost tens of millions of dollars in an hour yesterday afternoon.
Wall Street Fighter says: Although Gardner cut his teeth out in San Francisco’s Dean Witter brokerage office, far from the glory and dickheadedness of Wall Street, I still give him a never-ending amount of props. His true story is particularly impressive when you take a look at the elitist nature that pervades big banks and brokerages. As disgusting as it sounds, many companies/directors won’t give you a fair chance if you got your degree from a state school or wear the wrong type of leather belt. That kind of behavior is beyond obnoxious, but then again, so are their yearly bonuses.