The financial markets have provided plenty of inspiration for the film industry. Since the 2008 financial crisis, Hollywood has delivered some killer adaptions of some of Wall Street’s most interesting characters. In the following article, we explore five movie traders based on real people.
Jordan Belfort: The Wolf of Wall Street
In 2013, Leonardo DiCaprio played Jordan Belfort in Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. Although the film takes a liberal adaption of Belfort’s life, the former stockbroker’s story is faithfully rendered in the movie. Belfort was a struggling salesman who got a job at leading investment firm L.F. Rothschild, but was laid off after the Black Monday crash of 1987. He would then go on to work at a penny stock house before going on to buy Stratton. That’s when the life of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll truly began.
Paul Tudor Jones: Trader
Trader is a 1987 documentary aired by PBS that showcases the work of Paul Tudor Jones, who is regarded as one of the best investors of all time. The one-hour film looks at Jones’ success with his Tudor Investment Corp, where he correctly predicted the crash of ’87. Jones hated the movie, so he bought all the copies he could find.
Nick Leeson: Rogue Trader
Who can forget the incredibly story of Nick Leeson, the British derivates broker who caused London’s oldest merchant bank to collapse in 1995. How did he do it? Well, he racked up over 800 million pounds of losses. Leeson was later arrested in Frankfurt in this riveting tale of shady market dealings. Rogue Trader was released in 1999 to tell Leeson’s story.
Michael Burry: The Big Short
Dr. Burry is the seemingly prophetic figure in the film The Big Short, which is based on Michael Lewis’ compelling account of the 2008 financial crisis. Burry, who remains CEO of Scion Asset Management to this day, correctly predicted all the way back in 2005 that the U.S. housing market is extremely unstable. When the housing market collapsed in 2008, his fund’s value increased by nearly 500%.
Steve Eisman (Mark Baum): The Big Short
The Big Short is such a compelling story that we also need to mention Steve Eisman, the American investor who along with Burry shorted collateralized debt obligations in the lead-up to the financial crisis. In the movie, Eisman’s character is referred to as Mark Baum. When it was all said and done, Baum’s fund made a profit of $1 billion.
David Haglund (31 December 2013). “How Accurate Is The Wolf of Wall Street?” Slate.com.