George Goodman dies at 83; financial writer and commentator known as Adam Smith

January 3, 2014

George Goodman, the writer and commentator who provided insights into Wall Street culture and made complex financial concepts simple to viewers of the TV series “Adam Smith’s Money World,” died Jan. 3 in Miami. He was 83.

He had myelofibrosis, a bone marrow disorder, his son Mark Goodman told the Associated Press.

Best known by his pseudonym Adam Smith, Mr. Goodman became a valued teacher to the average U.S. investor through books such as “The Money Game” (1967), “Supermoney” (1972) and “The Roaring ’80s” (1988). From oil prices to housing-market speculation and government debt, the Harvard-educated author portrayed economic malady with witty anecdotes that still managed to deliver a serious message. Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Samuelson described “The Money Game” as “a modern classic.”

“I was worried that if one ayatollah could, in short time, cause oil to go up, the truckers then to go on strike, the airlines to flirt with bankruptcy, the defense budget to gather momentum, the Japanese to replace us as the buyers of Iranian oil — what if there was another fanatic Islamic cleric somewhere dictating into cassettes?” he wrote in his 1981 book, “Paper Money.”

Mr. Goodman continued to carve out his niche in business journalism by giving Americans a grounding in economics and finance through his TV series, “Adam Smith’s Money World,” which premiered in 1984 on the Public Broadcasting Service. Borrowing his nom de plume from the 18th-century Scottish philosopher, Mr. Goodman covered one topic per show. The 30-minute documentary series ran for 13 years.

A contributing editor and vice president of New York magazine, he began using a pseudonym to keep his revelations of Wall Street anonymous. Mr. Goodman became an editorial-board member at the New York Times in 1977, was executive editor of Esquire magazine for three years, and editorial chairman of N.J. Monthly during the late 1970s.

“He changed the way we think about financial journalism,” Peter Landau, who succeeded Mr. Goodman as editor of Institutional Investor, said in a profile on TJFR Group/MasterCard’s Business News Luminaries Web site. “Instead of being told that the Dow Jones Industrials declined two points or something equally boring, all of a sudden we were awakened to the fact that exciting things happen on Wall Street.”

George Jerome Waldo Goodman was born Aug. 10, 1930, in St. Louis. He graduated from Harvard University in 1952 before studying political economy at Oxford University as a Rhodes scholar. Mr. Goodman then served in the U.S. Army for two years.

He began his journalism career at Collier’s magazine and Barron’s before taking a job as associate editor of Time and Fortune magazines in 1958. Mr. Goodman then became vice president of the Lincoln Fund for two years, wrote screenplays in Los Angeles and returned to New York as editor of Institutional Investor, according to “Literary Journalism: A Biographical Dictionary of Writers and Editors,” by Edd Applegate.

His wife, actress Sally Brophy, died in 2007, the Associated Press reported. Survivors include two children; and three grandchildren.

—Bloomberg News

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