Listless, sketchy reflections on a clutch of the present decade's more obvious socioeconomic concerns, which pale in comparison with the pseudonymous author's previous and best-selling efforts--most notably, The Money Game (1968). Though still a sporadically elegant stylist, Smith (a.k.a. George J.W. Goodman) seems to have lost his knack for probing and mocking an era's egregiously wretched excesses. At any rate, here Smith/Goodman has stitched articles written for Esquire and New York magazines, plus commentaries from the PBS-TV show he hosts, into a not-quite-seamless collection of short-take briefings that range widely without reaching any definitive or arresting conclusions. By way of example, the author touches but does not dwell on the emergence of Pacific Rim nations as formidable commercial rivals of a debt-burdened US. Whether Confucian or casino capitalism might be expected to prevail, however, remains an open question in his text. Covered as well, albeit in cursory fashion, are measures taken by corporations to discourage unwelcome acquisition bids by so-called raiders, the appalling array of nuclear weaponry accumulated by the superpowers, Wall Street's expedient mores, last October's market break, MBAs as leading indicators of employment trends, the decline of American education, comparative pay scales, the price (not value) of apartments in midtown Manhattan, hunger as a political problem, and a wealth of other subjects, including an oddly coupled pair of best-selling authors--Ravi Batra and Allan Bloom. The bottom line: a disappointing hodgepodge that's only intermittently interesting as period-piece journalism. Those seeking an interpretive rundown on current investment/financial affairs with analytic bite will have to look elsewhere.