Fear and Loathing on Wall Street

The “main nerve” of the American dream runs through this desert metropolis, Hunter S. Thompson concluded in his 1971 book, “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

Less than 2 percent of the $3 trillion to $4 trillion that circulates in the world’s markets daily is used for goods and services.

“The rest is trying to make money off money,” said Chopra, adjunct professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois. “Our financial structure which, of course, is an American system but is now global, is pure speculation. It’s gambling.”

The robber barons may have been ruthless. But they also built stuff, like the oil industry, steel mills, steamship companies, and railroad lines. When Commodore Vanderbilt died, he was considered a hero. One reason: after he finally got a monopoly in railroads he lowered prices so more people would use it. Yes, he lowered the price.

The country as a whole benefited from what the robber barons built. But only a tiny few benefited from the now-collapsing edifice of fictitious capital erected on Wall Street.