The Vulture Investors

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The price of a free-market system might be an occasional act of economic Darwinism—the survival of the financially fittest. Like an investment-oriented archaeologist, Hilary Rosenberg uncovers the bones of the casualties and the predators that devoured the weak in the last twelve years.

However, Rosenberg is less anthropologist than apologist for much of this meanness, depicting some of these heartless souls as rather romantic pirates, perhaps even heroes. Despite descriptions that reveal a fascination with these macabre money-changers, her contrasting observations often show the vulture investors’ actions to be those of financial piranhas.

Traced to the 1929 Stock Market Crash, vulture investing returned in the 1980’s and 1990’s, when skyrocketing corporate borrowing spurred a drift toward debt, which in turn sparked many bankruptcies. That move was frequently recommended by high-priced consultants hired to engineer bankruptcies to benefit their employers, and exploited by the savvy vulture investor.

Rosenberg’s book runs counter to the conventional wisdom expressed by both conservatives (Kevin Phillips’ The Politics of Rich and Poor) and liberals (William Greider’s Who Will Tell the People?). It also differs from the account presented by award-winning PHILADELPHIA ENQUIRER reporters James Steele and Donald Barlett (America: What Went Wrong?). All express major misgivings about the practice and product of excess...

(The entire section is 446 words.)