Archive: Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is a documentary film that investigates one of the largest business scandals in American history. Fortune reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind wrote the best-selling book on which it is based.

The Art of Enron

Most people can bear adversity; but if you wish to know what a man really is give him power. This is the supreme test.
—Robert G. Ingersoll, Unity 1883

Unless you happened to work at Vermont’s Ben and Jerry’s in 1985 when the 5 to 1 rule was in effect1, America’s corporations, unwittingly or not, promote a type of culture that is “dog-eat-dog”. Under such merit-based systems, ambitious employees clock in long hours and rely on a variety of skills to climb the competitive corporate ladder. The highest tier of company leadership is where the best fruits of labor can be enjoyed.

Enron executives took this culture model and its fruits to an unprecedented level. For them, the culture wasn’t confined to activities in Enron’s trading floors and accounting offices; for this precious few, it became a way of life in which nothing was ever enough. Continue reading The Art of Enron

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Injustice Served at Enron, AA&Co: The Roles of Michael Chertoff and Sherron Watkins

The collapse of Enron and the conviction of its accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, mark a critical juncture in American business and political life. Not only the accounting profession but corporate America as a whole—and those charged with regulating it—must now confront what has been learned, what is at stake, and what can and should be done to restore public confidence in the integrity of the markets.
Bigger than Enron, Frontline 2002

Before we watch the documentary film, Enron, The Smartest Guys in the Room (Gibney & Kliot, 2005), let’s assess our knowledge of the Enron scandal.1 Do we even remember the rise and fall of the Enron Corporation very clearly? After all, a new generation has emerged since the company’s December 2, 2001 bankruptcy. And, noting the date, did some simply discard that news, since we were then, and are still, adjusting to the devastation resulting from the bombing of the World Trade Center towers?

Comparing the Enron Case to 9/11

Enron trademark
Enron trademark, positioned in front of Enron’s Houston Headquarters

We can compare the two events in time, but maybe very little else to compare otherwise. Of course, the collapse of Enron was earth-shaking to many people around the world who had invested in the company and had faith in its positive pronouncements. And, it was earth-shaking to others who had benefited from Enron’s philanthropic largess.

However, were lives lost? Were there lasting injuries? Unfortunately, we must answer “Yes” to both. Continue reading Injustice Served at Enron, AA&Co: The Roles of Michael Chertoff and Sherron Watkins

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Enron Trials: Mueller and Weissman in a Frenzied Witch Hunt

General Michael Flynn, former National Security Advisor to President Donald Trump, has every reason to be sweating bullets at present. After pleading guilty to lying to the FBI about Russian contacts, General Flynn is at the mercy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators. In addition to Flynn, three other henchmen of President Trump’s are in hot water relating to the investigation over Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Election:

  • Paul Manafort, Campaign Chairman
  • Ricky Gates, General Flynn’s assistant
  • George Papadopoulos, Campaign Foreign Policy Advisor

Andrew Fastow, the former CFO of Enron shown in this month’s movie, might strongly empathize with these men for he was once in their same distressing situation. Continue reading Enron Trials: Mueller and Weissman in a Frenzied Witch Hunt

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