During the Great Depression, legend has it a group of Wall Street bankers went to Hollywood to see if it was worth investing in, only to be immediately repulsed by the brazen displays of wealth they saw there. Now that it's the bankers being pilloried for their excesses, writes Neal Gabler in the Boston Globe, it could be argued that the whole economic mess we're in is the result of once-stodgy Wall Street becoming Hollywoodized.
Once a bunch of boring non-characters in identical suits, determined not to look like gamblers, in the last 25 years Wall Street began to see Hollywood as a blueprint for American success. The impression of wealth and wealth creation were all-important. The complex financial instruments that brought low the economy “were Wall Street’s answer to Hollywood—vast illusions of wealth that were maintained through smoke and mirrors.”