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The Fall of RJR Nabisco by Burroughs and Hayler

With respect to the process of the leveraged buyout itself, it is implicit that the authors feel there are numerous profound problems with the leveraged buyout process, but they deliberately skirt a final conclusion: "Those looking in these pages for a definitive judgment of leveraged buyouts on the American economy will no doubt be disappointed. It is the authors' contention that some companies are well suited for the rigors of an LBO, while others are not. As for RJR Nabisco, it is important to remember that an LBO is a creature of time. In most cases its success or failure can't be determined for (several) years. The events in this book constitute the birth of an LBO; at this writing, the reborn RJR Nabisco is barely a year old. The baby looks healthy, but it's too soon to predict its ultimate fate" (Burrough & Helyar, 1990, p. x).

If this is so, then why have the authors sub-titled their book, "The Fall of RJR Nabisco"? In any case, the story they tell is as much a tale of the continuing fall of the United States as it is the fall, or fall and re-rise, of a particular firm. This claim requires a description and discussion of the economic, social/cultural, legal, political, and technological environments which prevailed at the time of the LBO attempt and which affected the firm at that time.

It is amazing that neither President Ronald Reagan nor President G


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