Enron: The Other Side of the Story

Right Thinking Girl there is an ongoing, thorough examination of the Enron case and the trial of Jeffrey Skilling and Ken Lay. RTG is certainly forming a reasonable defense of these gentlemen and the Enron venture, but the larger issues she is raising about "profit on the books" types of businesses are more interesting to me (though I have an entirely different take on it). I'm amazed by how much of their game was shady - and how much of that shadiness was legal. But even if her opinions piss you off, essentially she is providing a pretty comprehensive digest of the trial and a quick look into how they made their money.

One of the really interesting aspects of her analysis is the way Skilling devised partnerships with invented entities to hide risk and, ultimately, keep losses off the books. This is a complex picture - and I'm led to believe that just as in many corporate enterprises, the complexity is really considered a business cost gladly paid for doing what is otherwise shady business. It's a great study in the problems of agency in the corporate world: if the investors knew Skilling was taking all these risks, would they have approved?

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Written on Thursday, April 13, 2006