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More shit, more fans.

More Shit, More Fans

The temper of Martin Peretz has presumably not been improved by the fall of his close business associate, Ivan Boesky. If God is all that Holy Scripture proclaims him to be--all-seeing, unforgiving--the S.E.C. would probe The New Republic, asking to see if its recent career had profited from insider manipulation.

I consider the fall of Boesky to be a benchmark signaling the demise of the Roaring Eighties and the vindication of the notions of Uncle Whiskers, a k a Karl Marx. Boesky, Goldsmith, Pickens, Icahn and others have flourished by takeover, greenmail, junk bonds, leveraged buyouts and the rest because their corporate targets have often had a stock price below the value of their fixed assets. Why has this been so? The stock prices have reflected the poor performance of these companies, consequent upon the falling rate of profit, which Uncle Whiskers reckoned to be prominent among the symptoms of capitalism's final slide toward the dustbin of h.

Contemplating Boesky, those with a mind for historical parallel may recall the fall of Clarence Hatry. Hartry was a British entrepreneur of the late 1920s, highly esteemed for his financial acumen. They said the same sorts of things about him that they later said about Boesky. He soared higher and higher. Then he tried to buy United Steel for 8 million sterling. His collateral turned out to be fraudulent. His fall, in September of 1929, led to the tightening of the British money market, the withdrawal of call loans from the New York market and, as an assisting fact, the topping out of the stock market and, in October 1929, the crash.

It would be gratifying if Sir James Goldsmith followed Boesky into the abyss. The admiration of the U.S. press for this ghastly character has been shameful. On November 21, The Wall Street Journal ran a fawning front-page article about him, by James Stewart and Philip Revzin. Having remarked on Goldsmith's baroque private life--spouses or spouse equivalents in every port--they lauded him, with a deferential smirk, as a "devoted family man' and printed without reservation Goldsmith's repellent claims to be a restorative force in the capitalist economy. They should talk to the hundreds of workers being laid off as a result of Goodyear's buyback strategy to beat off Goldsmith. One reason, unmentioned by The Journal, that Goldsmith may have given up on Goodyear is that he has a pathological aversion to rubber. One acquaintance chatting with him recently observed Goldsmith suddenly go rigid. "Pick it up,' the tycoon hissed urgently. "Pick up what, Jimmy?' Goldsmith's bulging eyes swiveled down on the table, where the friend saw a rubber band. He dutifully removed it, and only then did Goldsmith relax.

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Title Annotation:Beat the Devil; Ivan Boesky, Martin Peretz, James Goldsmith
Author:Cockburn, Alexander
Publication:The Nation
Article Type:column
Date:Dec 6, 1986
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