The cinematic symbol upon which Wall Street greed is based just endorsed a candidate for president. It’s not Donald Trump, the guy running on a greed-is-good platform.
No, the real-life stockbroker from which Gordon Gekko draws his inspiration, Asher Edelman, just endorsed Bernie Sanders for president.
That’s like Scrooge McDuck going on Fox News to rail against the gold standard.
“If you look at something called velocity of money—that means how much gets spent and turns around—when you have the top 1 percent getting money, they spend 5, 10 percent of what they earn. When you have the lower half of the economy, they spend 100 or 110 percent of what they earn,” Edelman told CNBC. It could’ve been a Bernie stump speech.
“Bernie is the only person out there who I think is talking at all about fiscal stimulation and banking rules that will make the banks begin to talk about lending again as opposed to speculation,” he said. “From an economic point of view, it’s straightforward.”
Not quite as sexy as “greed captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit,” but it’s a little jarring to hear on CNBC, which did a tremendous job of rooting on a mortgage crisis for a few years there and never really apologized for it.
It’s quite a turn for Edelman, whom Oliver Stone and Michael Douglas shadowed in the ’80s to get some of the inspiration for Gordon Gekko. The character, after all, was one of the first guys to bring "the one percent" to the American consciousness. “The richest one percent of this country owns half our country's wealth, five trillion dollars,” he says in Wall Street.
Bernie Sanders’s reaction to this information—and entire raison d’être—is to make sure such dudes with slicked back hair no longer have access to all of that stuff, because they spend it all on art.
Gekko and Edelman’s reaction to this information was to buy a metric shit ton of valuable art. That’s why Gekko’s apartment in the movie is loaded with fancy-looking watercolors. Edelman had a collection of Basquiats and Lichtensteins, maybe in a New York City townhouse the New York Post claims he defaulted on in the past decade.
Edelman believes, now, that “80 percent of Americans have been in a recession for the last 15 years.”
It’s a message that many people believe won Bernie Sanders Michigan this week, a state that has been ravaged by the post-industrial economy while companies like Chevy received a bailout and continue to make ugly cars nobody wants, but with more parts from overseas.
“People can buy less for what they have now than they could 15 years ago,” he said.
The five hosts got very angry at this, calling it “financial oppression,” and thus not really in the purview of four middle-aged dudes wearing pastel button-downs and the requisite lady anchor on CNBC. It’s not very cinematic, it’s ha-ha social media ironic, and this guy buys too much foppish stuff, but Scrooge McDuck has got a point: Too many people are too poor, but they didn’t have a portfolio, so they didn’t have a voice. Maybe that is starting to change.