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BREAKING THE BANKS.

Johnson, Arthur.

Toronto, General Paperbacks, 1987. 258pp paper. $5..95, ISBN 0-7736-7145-5.

Grades 11 and up
Reviewed by John D. Crawford

Volume 16 Number 5
1988 September


This entertainingly written book describes the people and events concerned with the demise of the Canadian Commercial and Northland banks in 1985. The story of this collapse of major Canadian financial institutions reveals a complicated mess of cupidity and na´vetÚ and a stunning disregard for business ethics.

The author is a well-known financial reporter who brings both specialized knowledge and journalistic flair to the book. The separate chapters have an independence suggestive of individual periodical articles; together they present a full picture of a financial debacle.

The story is an example of what has been described as the ugly face of capitalism. It might also be inferred from the relatively light sentences meted out that if you are going to commit fraud, do it big. The role of government in such dealings is also questioned. Politically expedient decisions that were certainly neither morally correct nor particularly intelligent were made. On the other hand, implied criticism of regulatory agencies could be considered harsh given the apparent shortage of staff and other resources.

This book provides not only an interesting narrative but also a reminder that consumer warnings in the business world are not always as clear as those on a pack of cigarettes.


John D. Crawford, Blanshard School, Victoria. B.C.
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