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Running with the Bulls

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Running with the Bulls

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Living on the Fault-Line

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Learning to Survive

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“We feel as if we own these companies. I know I do. When you’re an owner, you really feel that the board and the management reports to you. And they should report good things. And if they don’t, they need to have good reasons for their failures. And if they don’t, then something needs to change.”

    –Mutual funds money manager Michael Price, the hidden hand behind the Chase Bank - Chemical Bank merger of 1995 that sent stock prices soaring up and 12,000 Chase employees down to the unemployment office.

“They obviously make a lot of individual money, and they make a lot of money for shareholders. But the debris they leave behind seems unthinkable. If everybody did this, society would revolt -- as well we should.”

    – Henry Schacht, founding CEO of Lucent Technologies, discussing Michael Price-style business practices.

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Guess who really calls the shots in Corporate America. The almighty CEO? Guess again. In America today, corporate executives, once unparalleled titans of power, find themselves vulnerable to an often greater force – Wall Street money managers.

In Episode One of “Surviving the Bottom Line,” Hedrick Smith takes you Running with the Bulls, deep inside Wall Street, and reveals this historic powershift. Today, Wall Street values reign supreme – the single-minded goal, jacking up a company’s stock. The result – historic highs for stock owners but economic anxiety and diminishing returns for many wage earners in the middle.

What’s the real story behind the 1995 merger of Chase and Chemical banks? Join Smith as he reveals the power struggle between then-Chase CEO Thomas Labrecque and hard-charging mutual fund manager Michael Price that led to the creation of America’s largest bank. With rare candor, Labrecque and Price tell Smith the unadulterated version of events. Also appearing are former Chase chairman David Rockefeller, Chase board member and Lucent Technologies chairman Henry Schacht, and former Chase employees for whom the merger has meant the loss of long held jobs.

You may know Al Dunlap as the cost-cutting cover boy for corporate downsizing. Through unprecedented access and tireless reporting Smith, producer Marc Shaffer, and field producer Ariadne Allan deliver a provocative and revealing portrait of the man they call “chainsaw.” In several interviews with Dunlap, present and former colleagues, and some surprising critics, debate Dunlap's influential management approach. 

“I believe the shareholders own the corporation,” Dunlap trumpets. “We work for you!”

“This is going to blow up in our faces,” counters fellow corporate executive Henry Schacht. “There is no way a society can have this much of its accumulated wealth distributed to these few people.”

“We were the darlings of Wall Street,” former ValuJet president Lewis Jordan tells Smith. The original founders tied their fortunes to Wall Street and for eighteen wild months the strategy delivered. Jordan and the other three owners saw their original $1 million dollar investment grow ultimately to a staggering $200 million dollars. There was only one problem. . .

“At the time they were doing it, there really hadn’t been any airline that had expanded that fast,” Wall Street airline analyst and original ValuJet booster Tom Longman tells Smith. “Now, in hindsight, maybe there was a reason no airline has expanded that quickly before.”

Join Hedrick Smith for a revealing portrait of the promises and perils of Running with the Bulls.

[Episode One Transcript] [Dunlap Interview]
[
Schacht Interview]
[
Episode One Credits]

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