"Greed is Good", said Gordon Brown in the hit movie Wall Street, and now the actor that played him, Michael Douglas, is coming under fire for starting the runaway free market banking which has caused worldwide recession.
"I've had to live with the Wall Street thing for a long time now", said Douglas recently, "and the worse the economy gets the more they blame me. When I played Gordon Brown people thought he was some kind of financial action hero. Now they just think he was an evil monster."
Wall Street tells the story of a young stockbroker called Tony, played by Michael Sheen, who rises to financial stardom due to the unscrupulous economic tactics of Brown. Tony rises to great heights, but after he becomes less popular and leaves the firm, Gordon has to pick up the reins and move the company on. This is when his earlier decisions come home to roost and bankruptcy and ruin quickly follow. The movie is thought to have epitomised the morally-bankrupt, short-term, self-centred attitudes of the time.
The film has attracted publicity in more recent times too. In 1990 Newsweek Magazine ran a story asking "Is Greed Dead?" This was followed by the 1991 Enron Scandal, the 1995 Barings Bank bankruptcy and Gordon Gekko assuming the office of Prime Minister of Britain in 2007, amongst other greed-fuelled scandals.
So while the world attempts to ride out the worst economic climate in over fifty years, Michael Douglas has to live with the fact that he concentrated on 'Greed is good' instead of 'Lunch is for wimps'. Who knows, perhaps if he had changed the emphasis the world would now be prosperous and inhabited by happier, thinner people.