In Praise of Avarice
In 1987's Wall Street, Gordon Gekko proclaims, "Greed, for lack of a better word, is good." (As with many movie quotes, the public edited the original, so that the most-famous line in Michael Douglas' career is now commonly remembered, incorrectly, as being "Greed is good." Score one for the wisdom of the crowd--the revision is cleaner, simpler, stronger.
The film was fiction, but the sentiment was not. Bruised by stagflation from the previous decade, and by the belief that American corporate dominance was fading, several influential parties in the 1980s--Wall Street stock analysts, fund managers, and business-school professors--urged corporate CEOs to reform. No longer should CEOs have multiple goals. Ultimately, their task was to please but one party: the shareholders.
John Rekenthaler does not own shares in any of the securities mentioned above. Find out about Morningstar's editorial policies.