The Year of Big Splashes

Scandals and scares, booms and busts made 1985 a period of tumult

The economy during 1985 carried U.S. business ahead at the sleepy pace of Ol' Man River. Rolling along at a modest 2.4% rate, it provided most companies with just enough propulsion to make for a comfortable ride. But if the economic mainstream was smooth, the trip for many voyagers was as hair-raising as a Snake River rafting expedition. In 1985 a parade of slumps, scandals, panics and just plain goofs rocked the business world. All the while, an unprecedented wave of acquisitions was swallowing up such well-known corporate names as ABC, RCA, Nabisco, General Foods and Revlon.

Halfway through 1985, the...

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