In Wall Street, the one of the most valuable resources is information. It is also a scarce thing to come by because stockbrokers are reluctant to share what they know, it's difficult and sometimes illegal to acquire information about a firm, and there's a tacit understanding overall to keep circulating information about stocks between a handful of people. This knowledge refers to changes and developments of a company that would affect its stock value. While people who work for the company are aware of these changes, they are not allowed to share such nonpublic information with those who would misappropriate private information, trade on it, or pass it on. In the movie, information regarding a company is allocated in two ways. First, there are the brokers who work for their money by keeping up with news and acting quickly when it comes to buying and selling stock. They rely on their own knowledge of how the economy works and when it's best to invest or otherwise. They win some and lose some. They make an honest profit and over the years, it accumulates to a point where they become wealthy. Then, there are other people in the business who look for shortcuts because they're desperate to get to the top.
[...] The psychological reason behind what a person does is rooted in satisfying one's own demands, not those of society. People share the common instinct to want something and find ways to get it, but it's difficult to organize a group of people simply based on that commonality. The greatest limitation to using self-interest as something to organize society is how to let people work for what they want while putting that work to making society stronger as a whole. Another limitation is the fact that some people have desires that conflict with those of others. [...]
[...] If the stock market scenario were applied to the entire economy, there'd be no regulating it and thus the way the benefits and problems play out against each other would be very different. That is, a lot of competition would be created at first because everybody wants a chance at wealth, but because it is usually the smart people who benefit most, wealth will accumulate more for them. There is also a greater incentive to cheat on the large scale since there is more profit to be made. [...]
[...] Why care about poverty? It is the ability of people to think counterfactually, of consequences of their actions on others, that makes society work well. A society governed by self-interest creates corruption in government, inequality (the rich get richer), and a shortage of resources. Greed will not fix the problems of a more troubled country because people who are greedy care little about others and much about elevating their own status. Greed allows people to make gains only at others' loss because there are limited resources in the world and people's demands are satisfied by things that are made from resources. [...]
[...] A good sense of how the economy works is needed. You have to be a good and quick thinker to keep up with the market. To get the rewards of getting the big bucks in the stock market requires a lot of work, but the idea of making thousands and thousands just by typing on a computer and making a few calls is immensely appealing. As a result, people are willing to educate themselves for the payoff later on. A downside to this type of limited information being key to success is that people will want to find ways to cut the middleman called “hard work” and get to the money faster. [...]
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