Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer & Laurel Kenner

Dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, deflating ballyhoo, creating value, and laughter;  a forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place.



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"Cinderella Man"

Review by Kim Zussman


Cinderella Man is a current Russell Crowe film about depression-era boxer James Braddock(http://tinyurl.com/9mjqg).  In what is becoming the Crowe signature, here again is a tough-guy hero who suffers mightily for his family.

The movie offers a scary view of the great depression (especially "Hooverville" in central park) and levels of hardship which seem anachronistically implausible amidst today's affluence entitlement. One scene raises a moral dilemma when Braddock, who had disciplined his son for stealing salami, is reduced to begging for cash from his former handlers to pay the electric bill.

Is stealing worse than begging?  The answer in Russia is a resounding "nyet".  A land where property rights are there to be abrogated and gamed, and thieves that get away with it (ie, most of them) are considered heroic.

Here, another thief gets to prove his heroism in prison (http://tinyurl.com/9t688).  He will joining fellow travellers former Tyco executives Koslowski and Schwartz. Ebbers was CEO of Worldcom who mis-stated results and deceived shareholders.  Worldcom went bankrupt, the stock to zero, and lots of people lost much of their life savings.

25 years seems a harsh punishment, especially in contrast to violent criminals who often get off easier. However Ebbers crime was aimed at the center of free society first-world capitalism: guarantee of property rights.  Shareholders, not Ebbers, owned Worldcom.  His conviction, and others like it, continue to message would-be kleptofficers and cheaters that property rights are inalienable in America.  Which is one of the brilliant beacons that shine from our shores and attract the best and brightest from their corrupt, hopeless, motherlands.

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