Commentary: How Real Is This "Boiler Room"?

For a long time I've been waiting for Hollywood to discover the underside of Wall Street. Such a movie, I felt, would have to be set in the mid-1990s, for that was the heyday of "chop houses"--the slimy brokerages that preyed on thousands of investors. And it would be, of course, a farce. While investors were ripped off for billions of dollars a year, the regulators were laughingly ineffective. All they ever did was file lawsuits that were the equivalent of flinging spit balls at an F-15. A good title for such a flick would be "Consent Decree"--after the pathetic legal weapon the regulators wielded in those days.

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