There's still time left for President Obama to watch "The Wolf of Wall Street." The Martin Scorsese epic (I use the word based on the average time of the movie) focuses on the penny stock impresario, Jordan Belfort, whose short but amazing run is the stuff of legends (at least it is now). Of course, this is a Hollywood movie so there are the obligatory knocks on Wall Street, like the line from an old street vet: "we don't make anything on Wall Street." That's not the part of the movie President Obama should be concerned with, in part because he already believes it, and secondly because it's a million miles from the truth.
In the movie, Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) goes to work for a penny stock firm based out of a large auto garage on Long Island. He becomes an instant hit by pitching a crappy company's stock over the phone, using skills learned at a white shoe firm on The Street. The place erupted as he made the company sound like a true up-and-comer, something anyone from a true novice to a seasoned investor would like to take a shot at putting this in their portfolio. That was the seminal moment when the nascent penny stock industry moved from pitching stocks to plumbers, to selling stocks to millionaires.
President Obama is probably going to try to talk up the good parts of the economy with smoke and mirrors, and the selective use of statistics. But the Commander in Chief is also going to describe an unfair nation in crisis. He will hint at a nation on the edge, because successful people are rewarded too much and unsuccessful people are not rewarded. In essence, the speech will once again attempt to "fundamentally change" America from a nation that's zoomed to the top, via intense competition, and massive reward for any winner from any background, nationality or race.
Moreover, he will paint a future America that is the exact opposite of what Belfort did. He will take the greatest nation in the world with the most incredible economic machine, and make it sound like a small widget shop in a tin-roof building ready to collapse. We'll hear how mean-spirited it is that a high school dropout with three children isn't paid more, because the CEO makes a lot of money (in the process, it will be hinted the company should also be responsible for subsequent children born to this woman). In some ways, the irony is that less than 3% of Americans work at the federal minimum wage. In the meantime, millions of skilled jobs are going begging.
It's time to talk up the greatest that there is and to continue to be the United States of America.
From King to Pauper to King?
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Wall Street Strategies, Inc. (WSSI), founded in 1991 which provides subscription analytical services to both individual and institutional investors.
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