BAD MONEY by L. J. Davis


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Davis, a financial journalist, is understandably irked by the irresponsibility and greed of bankers in the last decade or so: the people at Chase Manhattan, Citibank, the Bank of America, etc., who kept lending money to the expiring Penn Central and W.T. Grant, to Zaire and other shaky LDCs. Along with the Hunt silver smash-up, these celebrated disasters serve as object-lessons here--but not much else. Davis' tone is slangy and sarcastic and unsubtle: ""In any merger, it is important for the officers of the combining companies to know what they will be doing after the merger is affected. . . . Somehow this simple fact--along with many other equally simple facts--seems to have escaped the attention of those involved."" His account of the Penn Central merger, the longest section, is mainly a souped-up version of the standard assessment (""Meanwhile David Bevan, the author of so much of this creative mischief, had a little game going on the side""), without reference to the contrary evidence in Stephen Salsbury's scholarly 1981 No Way to Run a Railroad. His account of the Grant collapse has nothing to tell readers of Business Week and such; his account of the eager-beaver LDC loans, and international operations generally, is totally outclassed by Anthony Sampson's The Money Lenders. There is, however, some fresh speculative dirt on David Rockefeller, the timing of revolutionary Iran's withdrawals from Chase, the Shah's arrival in the US (touching off the not-unanticipated embassy seizure), and the State Dept.'s freeze of Iranian deposits. Davis is onto various things, in fact--but the crude anti-business complexion of the text pretty much cancels them out.

Pub Date: Oct. 29th, 1982
Publisher: St. Martin's