Wall Street's minders had been predicting the imminent demise of the New York Stock Exchange as the world's premier securities market long before the SEC abolished fixed commission rates in 1975. Nearly two decades after this convulsive event, the dire forecasts have begun to come true—as the thoughtful, objective audit at hand attests. With help from Rottenberg (coauthor of Main Line Wasp, 1990), Wharton finance professors Blume and Siegel offer an accessible status report on a long-lived institution in at least partial eclipse. Drawing on NYSE archives and other sources, they first review the history of finance in the US. Getting down to business, the threesome tracks the Big Board's ascent through the go-go 60's, as well as its subsequent decline (as measured, for example, by its share of trading volume). They attribute the slide of the exchange (which turns 201 this year) to, among other causes, the development of alternative markets with cheaper, more efficient computer-based transaction systems; government regulation, which has impaired the NYSE's capacity to respond to threats from upstart rivals (or economic upheavals); the bureaucratic gridlock that can result from a brokerage-community membership with variant need; and the influential dominance of cost-conscious institutional fiduciaries rather than individual investors. Covered as well are the emergence of regional exchanges, offshore competitors, futures markets, and so-called derivatives that afford risk-averse money managers a means to pursue profit without actually committing to debt or equity issues. The authors stop short of specific prescriptions to ensure the survival of the NYSE and its valuable infrastructure, but they conclude that it still has a useful role to play as a servant, if not the master, of a widening world's increasingly interdependent economy. A perceptive, unsparing analysis of a colossus in crisis.
Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.
Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").
Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)