Michael Douglas is telling traders that greed is not good

Unfortunately, Gordon Gekko’s message was more compelling
Greed is not good
20th Century Fox Film Corp./Everett Collection

Though a villain, Michael Douglas’s portrayal of Gordon Gekko in the 1987 movie Wall Street came to epitomize the “look” of downtown Manhattan: slicked hair, suspenders and bankers’ collars. And judging by the 2008 financial crisis, so did his catchphrase “greed is good.” But now the FBI is hoping Douglas’s star power will deter real-life crooks. In a new public service announcement, Douglas reminds us that Gekko was a fictional character and warns that insider trading is a serious crime. In fact, it has become a huge problem in an age of hedge funds, which make money through short-term trades and are always looking for an edge. And last year’s conviction and 11-year sentence of Galleon Group co-founder Raj Rajaratnam showed that authorities are taking the problem seriously. Douglas’s message is the right one, but unfortunately for the FBI, it’s also a lot less compelling than the film.