The Wall Street Fix
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Press Reaction

The New York TimesSteve Lohr

"...The program's real achievement is in telling the WorldCom story as a narrative, starting with its origins in Mississippi and then showing, step by step, how its links with Citigroup's Salomon Smith Barney increased and tightened. ...

"[Hedrick Smith] builds his case with each vignette and each person interviewed, from Arthur Levitt, the former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to former Salomon employees to individual investors who felt swindled. ...

"Mr. Smith deftly weaves in the context of how the deregulation of the telecommunications industry and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which separated commercial banking from investment banking (a change Mr. Weill lobbied hard to achieve), contributed to WorldCom's ascent and demise.

"At times Mr. Smith seems to strain a bit. When describing a private loan Citibank made to Mr. Ebbers for a land deal, Mr. Smith, driving through forestlands, says, 'I found evidence of how the superbank was helping Bernie Ebbers in secretive new ways in a surprising place -- among these Mississippi pines.' The land deal he mentions was first reported last November.

"Yet for the most part 'The Wall Street Fix' is skillful and successful, telling a complicated and often technical subject to a television audience without dumbing it down. ..."

Los Angeles TimesJosh Friedman

"The title of tonight's edition of 'Frontline,' 'The Wall Street Fix,' has a double meaning. Or does it?

"Clearly, the game of stock research on Wall Street was rigged, costing millions of American investors billions of dollars. The question is whether the 'corrupt business model' as New York's attorney general calls it, has been fixed with the recent $1.4-billion settlement between regulators and 10 major brokerages.

"'Frontline' correspondent Hedrick Smith uses the stunning rise and fall of WorldCom Inc. as a case study in the manipulative and pervasive behavior that shattered investors' trust along with their nest eggs. This clearheaded, simply explained account will help even investing novices understand how Wall Street and corporate American went wrong -- and why many experts and investors remain skeptical about the future. ..."

 

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published may 8, 2003

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