Marketplace Scratch Pad

Always Be Closing

Scott Jagow Apr 10, 2009

You probably heard that Fox is planning a new reality series called “Someone’s Gotta Go.” Each episode, employees of a small business that needs to cut costs will decide which of their colleagues gets fired. Instead of wasting time thinking about that, I thought — not all Hollywood productions about business are monumentally stupid. In fact, there’ve been some fine films.

Glengarry Glen Ross, Citizen Kane, Trading Places, Jerry Maguire, American Psycho – I could go on – but I think a few of the classics might need an update:

Cool Hand Ben – A thriller set inside the Federal Reserve. Ben Bernanke leads his economic “disciples” in the fight against economic tyranny. In one classic scene, he performs stress tests on the CEOs of 19 banks. None of them can eat 50 eggs. Bernanke shows them how it’s done.

Main Street – Gordon Gekko gets out of prison and opens a clothing boutique in a small Midwestern town. Business goes bad because he can’t get a loan. He joins Code Pink and storms into a speech by Bud Fox, who is now Treasury Secretary and pressing his bailout of Wall Street. Gekko shouts: “I opened the doors for you! Showed you how the system works! The value of information! And this is how you f–ing pay me back you COCKROACH?”

The AIG Boiler Room – An insurance company sets up a training program for credit default swap traders. The trainer, played by Ben Affleck, tells his charges: “You become an employee of this firm, you will make your first million within three years. I’m gonna repeat that – you will make a million dollars. Just sign this bonus guarantee form.”

It’s a Wonderful Life II – George’s Bailey’s kid becomes the CEO of a Wall Street investment bank and gets mixed up with the wrong crowd. He succumbs to peer pressure and invests billions in complex derivatives and mortgage-backed securities. His bank is on the verge of collapse when an angel named Timothy Geithner visits him in the night and teaches him the lesson of moral hazard. In the final scene, George, Jr runs through the streets of Washington, shouting: “Merry Christmas, White House! Merry Christmas, Capitol Hill! Merry Christmas, you wonderful old Treasury Department!”

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