by David Safier
I watched "Dark Knight" on DVD a few nights ago — not my usual movie fare, but about as good as that kind of movie gets — and my jaw dropped open during one bit of not-very-important dialogue early in the film. If the S.E.C. had seen the script when it was written a few years ago, they could have nabbed Madoff way back then.
Remember how Madoff promised his clients 10-12% yearly profits, and delivered? You can't do that. You make 25% one year, then lose 15% the next. Things jump around when you're really investing. Steady profits are a dead giveaway.
So, to the Dark Knight. I took a clip from the original script (Isn't the web the most glorious time waster in the history of humankind?). Someone proposed that Wayne Enterprises go into a joint venture with some Chinese investment firm. Here's the snippet of dialogue:
Steady 8% growth indicates a revenue stream that's off the books. Maybe even illegal.
A couple of Hollywood script writers know enough to use a company's suspiciously steady growth as an indicator of hanky panky. They figure it's clear enough even a Batman audience can follow it. And yet, when the S.E.C. was given this information by a very credible whistleblower (this was years ago), they said, "Nah. Forget about it. I'll tell you what. Let's go after Martha Stewart. She's a Democrat, isn't she?"