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Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings


Rating: (Mildly Recommended)


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City Life

You can read Kate Jennings’ novel Moral Hazard in one or two sittings, and come away feeling that your time was spent reasonably well. Protagonist Cath works at home as caregiver to her Alzheimer’s afflicted husband, Bailey, and works on Wall Street as a speechwriter helping executives get their messages across. Finance geeks will enjoy many references in this book and those who hate business buzz words will find plenty here to appreciate.

Here’s an excerpt:

“ ‘Resist much, obey little,’ said Mike. Prompted by the words in the wrought-iron fencing, he was quoting Whitman. Mike was in a high mood. Bright sunshine and fitful wind signaled the end of another winter. Instead of huddling by doors or in recesses in the façade, smokers were spread across the plaza. We were on our bench. The river, the harbor, glinted. Oh Bailey, Bailey.
The cause of Mike’s mood wasn’t the sun but a fake memo that someone had written and placed in the racks where the analyst reports were displayed. The send-up had been provoked by a memo from the CEO. Ostensibly about the firm’s strategy, it contained, buried deep in deathly prose courtesy of Chuck and Bart, the news of sizeable layoffs.
The fake memo had been photocopied and faxed so many times I had trouble making it out. Mike took it back and read the last paragraph out loud: ‘”In conclusion, we find ourselves at an inflection point. We must fish, cur bait, or get off the pot. These are difficult and exciting times, made all the more difficult and exciting by the lack of a coherent vision other than to sell the firm to the highest bidder. But difficult and exciting times require sacrifice. Making sacrifices is your job, not mine. As I always say, you are our greatest asset – our human capital. But you are also completely expendable. Onward, friends.”’”

Kate Jennings presents both an insider and outsider view of life on Wall Street in Moral Hazard, as well as the issues of living with a spouse who’s ill.

Steve Hopkins, August 14, 2002


ã 2002 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared in the September 2002 issue of Executive Times


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