“Greed is good,” was the mantra of “Wall Street,” the 1987 movie depicting the Faustian bargains made by financial brokers.
Its sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” debuts tonight in a culture that is at once different and the same.
While the “Bonfire of the Vanities” excesses of the 1980s are not as flagrantly displayed, brokers “are still just as greedy,” said Terry Ferguson, a “broker’s broker” who left Cantor Fitzgerald to open a midtown restaurant, Matt’s Grill.
Brokers “are all there to make money: To make money for themselves and to make money for their firms,” Ferguson said.
But their bosses, newly alert to economic strife, have advised them not to occupy the front-row seats at Yankee games and to refrain from publicly lighting their cigars with $100 bills.
“They don’t flaunt it because they’re told not to,” but they still have it, said Ferguson.
Also, a limping Dow, layoffs and automation in the industry have resulted in greater job insecurity.
“Joe,” a vice president at a Wall Street investment firm, agreed, saying that the third year in a row of a bad market has created mottoes of “fear is king” and “watch your ass.”
“To be an optimist about the market seems naive,” he said.
Others contend Wall Street has reformed.
Financial firms today are much more likely to require ethics training and services for whistleblowers, said Susan Ganz of The Financial Women’s Association.