CUTBACKS, SPINOFFS, AND BUYOUTS bring pain — but the gains are worth it. Says a veteran: “It’s like going into a pet shop and opening the bird cages and letting out the birds.”
FORTUNE Magazine, March 2, 1987, by Myron Magnet, Reporter Associate Alan Farnham
Jerks, investment bankers and raiders call them, before descending to profanity. Clowns. They’re talking about the managers of some of America’s biggest corporations, and the talk more often than not these days vibrates with contempt, even enmity. These are the guys who made American industry uncompetitive, runs the charge. Now we investment bankers and raiders are restructuring it to put their mess right, and wouldn’t you know they’d bray angrily every stubborn step of the way?
Sleazeballs, managers retort. How dare these sharks pose as saviors? While they snatch robber-baron-size fortunes, their vaunted restructuring produces nothing but fired workers, abandoned communities, stifled research and investment, and companies crippled with debt. What they call putting the mess right is only paper shuffling, giving shareholders a quick thrill while maiming companies and making the U.S. economy less competitive in the long run.
In this inflamed debate, who’s right?
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