The Bottom Line: You Gotta Have A Gimmick

Has Francis Fukuyama been moonlighting?

You would almost think so: Many of this year's annual reports read more like The End of History than the end of fiscal 1991. In a year marked by the gulf war and the dissolution of the Soviet empire, corporate chieftains couldn't resist tackling the Big Issues. In one example, which mixes Fukuyama's themes with George Bush's speech patterns, Allan E. Murray, CEO of Mobil Corp., says in his letter to shareholders: "It was a topsy-turvy year. Mideast war. The Soviet Union cracking open. Europe coalescing. U.S. recession lingering. World economies slowing." Oh, and Mobil's earnings flat at $1.9 billion.

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