“For [Europeans] work was not an obsession or even, it seemed, a concern. And the notion that a person should subordinate himself to a corporation, especially an American corporation, was, to them, laughable.”
“If you are a self-possessed man with a healthy sense of detachment from your bank account and someone writes you a check for tens of millions of dollars, you probably behave as if you have won a sweepstakes, kicking your feet in the air and laughing yourself to sleep at night at the miracle of your good fortune. But if your sense of self-worth is morbidly wrapped up in your financial success, you probably believe you deserve everything you get. You take it as a reflection of something grand inside you.”
“There was a deep behavioral connection between bond trading and takeovers as well: Both were driven by a new pushy financial entrepreneurship that smelled fishy to many who had made their living on Wall Street in the past. There are those who would have you think that a great deal of thought and wisdom is invested in each takeover. Not so. Wall Street’s takeover salesmen are not so different from Wall Street’s bond salesmen. They spend far more time plotting strategy than they do wondering whether they should do the deals. They basically assume that anything that enables them to get rich must also be good for the world. The embodiment of the takeover market is a high-strung, hyper-ambitious twenty-six-year-old, employed by a large American investment bank, smiling and dialing for companies.
And the process by which a take-over occurs is frighteningly simple in view of its effects on community, workers, shareholders, and management. A paper manufacturer in Oregon appears cheap to the twenty-six-year-old playing with his computer late one night in New York or London. He writes his calculations on a telex, which he send to any party remotely interested in paper, in Oregon , or in buying cheap companies. Like the organizer of a debutante party, the twenty-six-year-old keeps a file on his desk of who is keen on whom. But he isn’t particularly discriminating in issuing invitations. Anyone can buy because anyone can borrow using junk bonds. The papermaker in Oregon is now a target.”
“My father’s generation grew up with certain beliefs. One of those beliefs is that the amount of money one earns is a rough guide to one’s contribution to the welfare and prosperity of society…It took watching his son being paid 225 grand at the age of twenty-seven, after two years on the job, to shake his faith in money. He has only recently recovered from the shock.”
Steel-welded Sculpture, The Sun God, by J. McKeon