Dangerous Dreamers: The Financial Innovators from Charles Merrill to Michael Milken

Overview

The go-go '80s are over. And along with them, says conventional wisdom, the aberrant financial behavior that ignited the late, great junk bond/leverage buyout era. The usual suspects - including Michael Milken and Co. - have been rounded up, prosecuted, and demonized. It's now back to business as usual... Not likely, says Robert Sobel, the widely respected business historian who brings a deep knowledge of the workings, lore, and shifting mores of Wall Street to this insightful new book. In Dangerous Dreamers, the...
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Overview

The go-go '80s are over. And along with them, says conventional wisdom, the aberrant financial behavior that ignited the late, great junk bond/leverage buyout era. The usual suspects - including Michael Milken and Co. - have been rounded up, prosecuted, and demonized. It's now back to business as usual... Not likely, says Robert Sobel, the widely respected business historian who brings a deep knowledge of the workings, lore, and shifting mores of Wall Street to this insightful new book. In Dangerous Dreamers, the author investigates the real, continuing causes of the recent "Junk Decade" and places the period into compelling historical perspective. At the same time, he serves up life-sized portraits of some of Wall Street's most "dangerous dreamers," those sharp-eyed financial innovators whose machinations have instigated the Street's most dizzying periods of business creativity. Dangerous Dreamers is a true account of the brilliant outsiders who have disrupted the economic status quo for generations and left their indelible marks upon the way business is done in the United States and abroad. It's the story of such major figures as Louis Wolfson, Charles Merrill, James Ling, T. Boone Pickens, and, of course, Michael Milken - revealing what really makes these "disturbers of the peace" run, what they're after, and why men of their ilk are usually singled out for praise, then swiftly condemned by the financial community. At the same time, Dangerous Dreamers delivers a serious, in-depth analysis of the meaning of "Milkenism" in business and economic history. It traces the savvy bond salesman's meteoric rise to prominence in 1983 by assisting Pickens in his attempted takeover of Gulf Oil, probes his frenetic dealings at Drexel Burnham, and explains how he envisioned the junk bond as a vehicle for his ideas, not as an end in itself. Dangerous Dreamers also throws critical light on the major players of the junk bond era - the big banks, the pension and mutual funds, t
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although Sobel ( The Big Board ) records such ``innovations'' as the Merrill Lynch small-investors-in-volume sales approach, Louis Wolfson's ``conglomerate'' pioneering and the corporate raidings of Boone Pickens, Sobel's liveliest concern here is the controversial ``junk-bond'' market of the 1980s and its star performer, Michael Milken. In a notably balanced chronicle, Sobel weighs government pressure (e.g., Milken was U.S. Attorney Rudolph Guiliani's ``ultimate target'') in the demise of Drexel Burnham Lambert against the junk-bond deregulation connection in the S & L debacles. Sobel also points to Milken's deft facilitation through pooled financing of still-flourishing business start-ups, and he implicitly questions the so-called ``Fatico hearings'' which allow a sentencing judge, as in Milken's case, to admit the presentation of evidence without an indictment. (May)
Library Journal
Sobel, an author of several books on Wall Street, here chronicles the tales of four financial innovators who all pioneered some financial wrinkle: Louis Wolfson, in corporate takeovers; Charles Merrill, in ``people's capitalism'' (stock ownership); and James Ling, in conglomerates. As Sobel sees it, these three were precursors of Michael Milken, who masterminded the junk (high yield/risk) bonds. Once considered one of the nation's most influential businessmen, Milken has stirred strong feelings among both admirers and critics. Sobel here challenges most of what are perceived as Milken's sins, pointing out the importance of his role in financing companies that could not have otherwise obtained funds (MCI, CNN, etc.). Sobel calls Milken's prosecution a prolonged witch hunt that in effect made him the scapegoat for various unpleasant financial excesses of the Eighties. Most libraries will want this informative and entertaining work.-- Alex Wenner, Indiana Univ. Libs., Bloomington
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587980299
  • Publisher: Beard Books, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/28/2000
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 276
  • Sales rank: 989,450
  • Product dimensions: 5.97 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
I Precursors
1 Louis Wolfson - The Junkman 9
2 Charles Merrill and the Rebirth of Wall Street 23
3 James Ling and the Conglomerate Era 37
II Michael Milken and the Junk Decade
4 Michael Milken - The Outsider 55
5 Weaving the Drexel Network 81
6 The New Breed 100
7 Reinventing America 121
8 T. Boone Pickens and the New Corporate Raiders 136
III Debacle
9 The Counterattack 157
10 The Great Debacle 172
11 Crime and Punishment 198
Notes 220
Selected Bibliography 239
Index 249
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