I have been harsh in the past about some things William D. Cohan has written about Wall Street, specifically in this review of his book about Goldman Sachs, and this view on Fabulous Fab’s criminal conviction for just doing his job as a CDO structurer.
However, I really appreciated his Op-Ed in this weekend’s New York Times about the Wolf of Wall Street movie versus the reality of Wall Street. Cohan nails it.
The Wolf of Wall Street depicts a Hollywood version of a dark corner of the finance world – boiler rooms – that bears little resemblance to the actual Wall Street.
My colleagues generally worked too hard, had too much pride in their fancy educational pedigrees, and too much ambition to get ahead in a culture that actually punished irresponsible behavior to do the stuff that Leonardo DiCaprio’s character does in the movie.
I’m not saying there weren’t jerks – of course there were – but the point was you didn’t want to get identified inside the firm as a jerk. It was a very bad career move to get known for bad behavior.
That’s the real truth, but it obviously makes for far less exciting cinema than cocaine, prostitutes, and scamming people on purpose.
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