Wolf’s Confession from Wall Street

“In its wild forms, the gray wolf, or Canis lupus, was gradually exterminated by humans in several areas of its original range, especially in the 19th century.and century “(Wikipedia). He reappeared during the great financial crisis, the collapse of October 19, 1987. Jordan Belfort, nicknamed the “Wall Street wolf” by the American press and inspired by Martin Scorsese’s film, made his financial debut that day, fatally.

Nothing led him to become a hero, despite the most illegally uploaded film in history. Having started studying dentistry, abandoned to the great displeasure of his parents, he began to engage in the meat trade, where he realized his talents as a salesman. It goes from cans to “listed cans”, but not any. He joins an outdated Long Island brokerage company that sells penny stocks, very low-value stocks (less than $ 1) that are traded in poorly regulated markets and neglected by large Wall Street firms. But they have an advantage for brokers: the commissions they receive are 100-1000 times higher than the main shares on Wall Street. They were sold to the American middle class. Two months later, the wolf from Wall Street earns more than $ 60,000 and buys a Jaguar.

The bacchanalia of capitalism

Wanting to create his own, Jordan Belfort bought a broker on the verge of bankruptcy, Stratton Securities. It will turn it into a large financial circus and ATM, which will employ up to a thousand employees who have become masters of the art of stock market storytelling. They changed the goals of customers and attacked wealthier investors. They were promised to invest in the most promising stocks first. They were previously purchased by Stratton traders. They took advantage of these new buyers and the resulting price increases to resell profitable securities.

Twice a day, Jordan Belfort went to the arena and warmed up his brokers in coaching sessions and collective imitation. A way to keep up the pressure and remind them that they need to know their “text” – their advertising information – as actors. “My society in retrospect should be called Sodom and Gomorrah. We lived, as in ancient Rome, bound by a mad desire to fall into debauchery. Drug dealers and prostitutes were practically considered temporary agents of the broker, so their presence on the company’s premises has become commonplace. “I became addicted to wealth and power. […] Stratton got into a corkscrew, and so did I. »

crazy max

Wolf’s father on Wall Street, nicknamed “Crazy Max” for his tantrums, was Stratton’s accountant. He was much more flexible about the company’s numerous and obscure cash payments than about respect for parking spaces. Anyone who parked their Ferrari in its place would inevitably see it destroyed by a baseball bat. It even became a form of disobedience and tribal loyalty among brokers: anyone who sacrificed his car to the “father of the wolf” showed his devotion to Stratton. At the company’s Christmas party in 1994, Jordan Belfort told a scattered audience: “You can all be proud to belong to a company that promotes values ​​such as honesty, loyalty and family. »

All employees lived in the same Queens area in Bayside, New York. Families went on vacation together, and men – on a trip. That’s why “none of them wanted to talk to you,” Jordan Belfort told FBI agents. “We spent every hour of the day together, not only at work but also at home. His brokerage firm was a “cult”, a world in a vacuum that could only be reached by co-optation. “At the heart of any cult is the fundamental belief that, despite what the rest of the world may think, other people are crazy. »

Soprano trading

“We weren’t really thieves on Wall Street, we were just persuading people to give us their money. We had to circumvent the law only to keep up with the competition. In fact, these are Lehman Brothers scripts that were used to support our Stratton scripts. “Harassed by FBI obsessive agent Gregory Coleman, 36-year-old Jordan Belfort, has been arrested and charged with 22 counts (fraud, money laundering, etc.). He faces more than 30 years in federal prison and a $ 100 million fine if he goes to court. Therefore, he negotiated with the courts and was sentenced to 4 years in prison, the term of imprisonment was reduced to 22 months for good behavior.

At its peak between 1991 and 1994, Jordan Belfort earned $ 1 million a week, scattered over four winds in small colorful tablets, yachts, race cars, and silly trips to Las Vegas or Atlantic City. He advised his staff to follow suit. “I want you to spend money, to get into debt, so that you have no choice but to succeed, and the consequences of failure are so severe that the very thought of it drives you crazy.” »

Wolf hunting from Wall Street

Jordan Belfort. Le Cherche Midi, 624 pages, 22 euros.