Greed: Is It Still Good?


Twenty-three years ago, a fictional Wall Street trader summed up a business era in three words: “Greed is good.” In this year’s long-awaited sequel to the movie Wall Street, Gordon Gekko twists that observation into a question: “Is greed good?”

He’s not the only one asking the question. Since Adam Smith, it’s been an article of faith among economists that private self-interest creates public wealth. But for many, the Great Recession has shaken that faith. “This notion that everybody striving simply for their own good will produce a common good — it sure didn’t work in the market for residential mortgages and the mortgage-backed securities created from those mortgages,” says Greg Hallman, senior lecturer in finance at the McCombs School of Business. “It failed so spectacularly, it seems difficult to even defend it.”

In this four-part series, reporter Steve Brooks talks to Hallman and other McCombs faculty members about greed and its limits and how to revive the neglected field of business ethics. They offer fresh lessons on self-interest run amok, from overlooked writings of Adam Smith to overpaid CEOs, from misguided incentives in mortgages to unconscious biases in ethics.

Click this link to go to the series.


About The Author

Steve Brooks

In a quarter-century as a journalist, Steve Brooks has won two Neal awards for excellence in trade reporting and a Press Club of New Orleans award...


#1 I am pleased that McCombs is

I am pleased that McCombs is getting in touch with root issues that influence the business world. Good and evil; basic stuff. Our forebears bellieved in social order through personal restraint. I fear restraint is a word and character trait that needs to be put back in our vocabulary.

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