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Obama's Wall Street speech: Days of reckless greed over

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Jeff Zelevansky/Reuters

(Read caption) President Obama spoke Monday at Federal Hall in the heart of Wall Street, pressing his case for the biggest overhaul in financial regulations since the 1930s.

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Gordon Gekko, are you listening?

In his speech on Wall Street Monday, President Obama pushed financial reform and warned the chieftains of finance that this time would be different: "I want everybody here to hear my words: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses."

He's not the only one preaching about the dangers of unrestrained capitalism. Director Oliver Stone, who immortalized broker-villain Gordon Gekko ("Greed is Good") in his 1987 movie "Wall Street," is working on a sequel. In it, Gekko comes out of prison to start a new life, a vehicle for Mr. Stone to highlight the recent sins of the financial world.

But a funny thing happens when movie directors (or presidents) try to tell Wall Street its business. The message quickly gets clouded.

Gekko, far from being a villain, has served as an inspiration for many to get into investments. It's “probably been the biggest surprise of my career, that people say that this seductive villain has motivated me to go into this business,” Michael Douglas, who won an Academy Award for playing Gekko, told The New York Times. (He's also playing Gekko in the sequel.)

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