In at least one way, 1984 has been a fabulous year for all of the major corporations in America. Their current management teams were infallible. The only goofs were committed by executives who were subsequently replaced. Perfection reigned all year long if there were no changes at the top.
If you want to confirm this, you'll just have to read (and swallow) the upcoming crop of annual reports.
Earnings will have varied drastically from company to company, but the upturns were the result of brilliant strategies and efficiencies, while the downturns were caused by unforeseeable market softness, uncontrollable foreign exchange rates, unlikely cost increases and the like . . . or by an occasional capricious and nasty act of God.
Once in a while you will find a hint of past error. A division or subsidiary has been sold at a loss in order to improve a corporation's cash position or to "concentrate its efforts in its areas of greatest expertise." And some of these divestitures were the supposedly brilliant acquisitions of yesteryear. But, fortunately, every company bought in 1984 shows great potential for profit and is a natural adjunct to the other activities of the purchaser.
You will discover, too, that every merger, whether amicable or not, was made in stockholders' heaven. This is particularly remarkable when you notice that every thwarted takeover attempt was also in the best interests of both parties' stockholders, regardless of how costly the battle was.
If you believe all the annual reports, then you will have to conclude that the dominant factor in corporate fortunes is Lady Luck. With managerial wisdom so rampant, she alone can account for the vagaries of the bottom line.
What you're bound to discern, however, is a different lady, the muse of annual report prose: Pollyanna.