The More Things Change

Letter from the Editor: Has the heavy hand of regulation managed to put the genie called Greed back in the bottle?

Published: Sep 24, 2010

The images of employees leaving in droves, carrying their belongings from the Lehman Brothers HQ on Wall Street for the last time on September 15, 2008, remain firmly etched in our minds. It may have signalled the beginning of the end of Wall Street as we knew it. The first signs of a major financial crisis started much earlier, but the Lehman crash was quite the epochal moment.

mg_35442_coverpage_oct_280x210.jpgSince then, there’s been an unprecedented effort to rein in the storied firms that rule Wall Street on both sides of the Atlantic. Regulators have tried to fundamentally overhaul compensation models, cap excessive leverage and root out bad practices.

Now, here’s the moot point: Has the heavy hand of regulation managed to put the genie called Greed back in the bottle? We reckon it’s a good time to take stock. Partly because Oliver Stone’s sequel to Wall Street is all set to hit movie screens around the world. Money Never Sleeps will be closely watched not just because Michael Douglas makes a comeback as Gordon Gekko, one of the most famous fictional characters in modern movie history, in a new reformist avatar. The film’s release also comes at a time when Wall Street — and all that it stands for — is at a crossroads. So has Wall Street really cleaned up its act?

Deputy Editor Shishir Prasad and Senior Editor S. Srinivasan have sculpted a cover package that helps connect the real world of Dick Fuld with the fictional world of Gordon Gekko. Shishir commissioned guest writer Maharshi Vaishnav to contrast the old Gordon Gekko with the new bad guy, Bretton James. Vaishnav rounded it off with an exclusive interview with Oliver Stone. We asked our columnist Vikram Sheel Kumar to take a stab at helping us understand the biochemistry of greed. And, in his opening essay, Srinivasan argues why greed has always been at the very core of Wall Street — and why it could be making a comeback once again.

As always, I’d love to hear your feedback.

(This story appears in the 08 October, 2010 issue of Forbes India. You can buy our tablet version from To visit our Archives, click here.)

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