Sunday 2011-04-24

The Go-Go Years by John Brooks

The formula for writing a Brooks book follows: Open with a dramatic human story, detail the daring deeds which end in depravity with wit and insight, use "ukazes" once per book.

It is curious to note that, while the operations of both the pools of the 1920s and the high-performance funds of the 1960s were obviously unfair if not illegal, there was no public disapproval of either so long as people were making money on them.
-- Climax
Reform follows public crises as remorse follows private ones.
-- The Go-Go years
( both with much prescription and little effective behavior modification )
The constant danger in our Commission is that with market activity at an all-time high, we become so overwhelmed with immediatte problems that we are virtually forced to concentrate all our funds and manpower upon them and cannot do any long-range planning.
-- William Cary, SEC Chairman, 1961, Palmy Days and Low Rumblings
( looks like the previous years' long-range planning didn't work out so well )
Bart Lytton, born in new Castle, Pennsylvania, in upper middle-class circumstances, came of age in the Depression, joined hte WPA Federal Theatre Project, and became a Communist...
After a time he left the Party, but without totally and violently rejecting its beliefs as so many renegades did...
By 1965 his Lytton Financial Corporation had grown so fantastically that it was among the five biggest savings-and-loans companies in the country; ... with hundreds of millions of his own...
The very next year, 1966, his headlong business style would backfire and his company collapse into reorganization; meanwhile, though, the Communist Party of the United States had apparently been for him a far more effective academy of commerce than the Harvard School of Business Administration is for most.
-- Northern Exposure
( either Brooks thinks most businesses should fail catastrophically, or this attempt at biting prose leaves him with a tongue black and blue )
In December 1966, the Accounting Principles Board labored and finally delivered itself of a stiff opinion requiring that convertible debentures be accounted for partly as debt and partly as the equity into which they were, by definition, convertible. This overdue proviso hit directly at conglomerate bottom-line magic; the protests were so loud, so strident, and from such powerful sources that the APB felt the need to back down and suspend its ruling. Considered morally, was not this as shocking an abdication of responsibility as if a judge, say, who had sentenced a Mafia member then reversed himself after having been threatened?
-- The Conglomerateurs
"I remember some of the Wall Street pushers from that summer. There were almost local characters. There was one real slick dude, Slick I'll call him, who always wore a porkpie hat and a trim moustache. He looked like the average office worker. He had one of the best bags in Wall Street -- topnotch stuff, I mean, or at least that was his reputation.
-- Blackie, an NYC undercover cop, The Enormous Back Room
( "his drugs were so pure, you heard angels singing when you were on them... or so I, umm, heard." )
Determined that participation be active, (Reverend John) Moody and his staff set up in the courts at the edge of the graveyard (at Trinity) graffiti and mural boards designed to permit Wall Streeters, were the spirit to move them, to express themselves in ways less constricted than are possible through office machines or stock transfer slips.
-- Go-Go at High Noon