10 Things We Didn’t Learn From Enron Scandal, 10 Years After

If it’s too good to be true, it probably is

First, Weiss said, the cash flows did not match the profits even after many years which should have raised a red flag. Higher capital requirements and less leverage reduce the danger of a catastrophe.

“The basic answer is that a common shareholder only gets paid if everyone else has been paid,” he said. “You probably could have gotten benefit of Sarbanes Oxley with a smaller law that avoided the pitfalls that companies complain about.”

Sen. “The outright fraud of the type that was the core of Enron’s ultimate collapse — bogus transactions that generated accounting entries but not real profits — was contained after Enron (even if other frauds, like Madoff’s arose).”

In 2006, Skilling was convicted of 19 criminal counts, including one count of insider trading, related to his role in the massive fraud. But we still built, and we’re still building, too many fragile financial structures that fail too often.”

Olympus managed to hide losses for two decades and admitted only recently to doing so. Many in the business community say business regulation is doing more harm than good for an already fragile economy.

“Just because it’s a big respectable bank, don’t think they’re not into gambling,” Gibney said.

“The risks that traders take pose risks for all of us,” he said.

2. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the permanent subcommittee on investigations which reported on the role of Enron’s board and investment banks’ response to lessons learned from Enron, said the Enron scandal did not put an end to corporate malfeasance..

Elkind said companies must clearly disclose the risks they are taking and regulators need to require them to do so.

Peter Elkind, editor at large with Fortune magazine, investigative reporter and co-author of Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron with Bethany McLean, said business, especially the financial world, can’t be left to regulate itself.

Alex Gibney, filmmaker who produced “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room,” said the big lesson that wasn’t learned was Enron was aided and abetted by the most important investment banks in America and around the world.

Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling reportedly led the company’s risky bets to revolutionize the market for natural gas and commodities trading. Skilling was sentenced to 45 years in prison and fined $45 million.

8. Today banks have refused to devalue their troubled assets, say some economists.

Elkind said regulatory agencies need to have the weapons and funding to closely monitor new, ever more powerful financial instruments.

The company’s 20,000 employees lost not only their jobs and medical insurance but retirement savings in company stock. We didn’t, but we still could and we still should.”

10. Excessive leverage is as dangerous as a bad bet

“The changes made after Enron did little to avoid the shocking failures at AIG and other financial companies,” he said. Many say regulators need teeth to enforce rules and weed out shady accounting. Enron allegedly made prepay deals worth billions of dollars, such as pretending to engage in energy swaps with other companies but they were actually dealing with offshore companies that were banks, in essence to receive loans. “And they could do this and make a fortune, and no one could copy it? How was it shown on their financial statements?”

“When you pass these laws, it adds a level of complexity that is hard for many companies, especially small companies,” he said. Enron executives Kenneth Lay, Jeff Skilling and Andrew Fastow — all convicted of white collar crimes — emblemized the bad side of the one percent before the term existed.

Weiss said at the most basic level, the key lesson from the South Sea Bubble, Enron, and Madoff Ponzi scheme is knowing whether a business itself makes sense.

“We muddled through and avoided more Enron-type frauds and collapses, which isn’t bad.

Enron allowed its chief financial officer, Andrew Fastow, to set up a fund called LJM and engage in suspect deals that made Enron’s books look better, Levin said. history. Unlike Enron, Olympus came clean on its own.

7. Names like AIG and WorldCom may have replaced Enron in the vernacular when referring to corporate meltdowns and greed. Regulators and the regulated continue their dance

“We did learn some lessons and people were more careful, but greed creeps back in again,” said Lawrence Weiss, professor of international accounting at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

That’s the good news, Roe said.

“Some people like them a lot, but they’re just so complex. In 2001 Enron employees lost $1.2 billion in retirement funds and $2 billion in pension funds while Enron’s top execs cashed in $116 million in stock, according to the film, “Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.” The average severance pay was $4,500 while the top executives were paid bonuses totaling $55 million.

9. Okay, but how did these people create the wealth? What exactly were they doing? Trading energy, trading weather futures, trading broadband,” he said. Instead of the massive amount of documents can’t we do one thing at a time, isolate and make it clear, so we have a sense of the repercussions?”

Ten years after the energy and commodities firm Enron collapsed under the weight of a massive fraud, much has changed about how corporate America does business and much, unfortunately, has remained the same, with new frauds and excessive risk-taking exposed all too frequently.

“We could have taken a deep look at the special purpose vehicles, derivatives, repos, and the rest of the ‘new’ finance that was core to Enron’s business model, in order to see what needed to be done better,” Mark Roe, professor at Harvard Law School, said. Skilling was alleged to have dumped $15.5 million in Enron stock in an insider trade more than two months before the company declared bankruptcy. “Often that means they don’t get paid at all. Lawyers, bankers, auditors and many employees saw stuff that they knew was wrong or was suspicious and said little or nothing. “This then begs the question of whether it was obvious at the time. “At some level, we might be better off with a simple cigarette-style warning — this investment is not guaranteed; you could lose all of your money — than the phone book style SEC reports that are currently distributed to investors.”

Weiss said one could not understand how Enron valued things, or management had discretion in the valuations which allowed management to choose their profit number.

“One lesson we haven’t learned from Enron is that corporations will engage in conflicts of interest, and some won’t stop until action is taken,” he said.

Before the bankruptcy of WorldCom in 2002, Enron’s bankruptcy was the largest in U.S. Preferred stockholders get preferred treatment

“They employed brilliant people. In Enron, and more recent cases like GM and Lehman, this really seemed to surprise some investors. In the years after Enron was exposed, companies like Goldman Sachs and Citibank set up synthetic CDOs, sold shares in them to clients, and then made money betting against their own clients.

“After Enron, we could have, but didn’t, take the opportunity to re-think what’s the core of what’s economically valuable in managing risk in the derivatives business and financing firms via repos and special purpose vehicles,” Roe said. Corporate leadership makes all the difference in the world–for good and for bad

Examples include Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers in the run-up to the financial crisis and MF Global’s implosion just recently, he said.

“One of the things most people forget about Enron, it wasn’t an outlier,” he said, explaining that it engaged in risky activities with venerated banks.

Stephen Lubben, law professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, said recent years have also shown the limits of the ever-increasing disclosure obligations imposed on companies.

Many transactions — ultimately at the collapse of the company — involved some of the largest banks in the country.

“These frauds don’t happen in a vacuum,” Weiss said in agreement. Important names make mistakes too

Corporations still use accounting tricks to hide debt. “We could have taken the opportunity to preserve the valuable in the new finance and carve out the excess. Obviously this is a problem in all bankruptcy cases, but it is especially acute in a situation where a big, well-known company fails will little warning.”

“If it looks too good to be true it probably is, or people’s inherent greed often gets the better of their judgment,” he said.

3. It was his CFO, Andrew Fastow, allegedly idolized Skilling, and did his part to cook the books, hiding billions of dollars in debt.

Opinions over the role of regulators are mixed. We need to create the right incentives to keep people honest – or at least not afraid to speak out.”

Weiss said the same could be said of the Dodd-Frank Act, or Obama’s healthcare plan.

Lubben said the recent financial crisis showed that small investors still do not fully understand where shareholders stand in the priority line — the “food chain” — of large corporations.

Once the darling of Wall Street, Enron was the country’s seventh-largest company with a soaring stock price that grew more than 100 percent in 2000. I would argue that at best, the firm smelled very bad.”

“You’re not so far out on the ledge,” he said.

6. The company collapsed in a matter of months as the media and the public became aware of its faulty accounting and business practices.

“Conflicts of interest will continue to plague Wall Street until regulators use the new Dodd-Frank provisions to prohibit them,” he said.. Next, it was difficult if not impossible to understand exactly how the firm made money.

Given the lopsided votes in favor of the law, Weiss said it was likely not well-read by lawmakers before it was passed.

“For Enron, the firm was growing at a fantastic rate and the question was how were they doing it? The answer, one knows with hindsight, was they were committing massive fraud,” he said. “Lots of people were aware or should have been aware. Conflicts of interest continue to occur

If you increase capital requirements for financial institutions, you decrease risk, Elkind said. Still building fragile financial structures

Weiss said the Sarbanes Oxley Act, which created new standards for accounting firms, boards and management, was a “clear overreaction” to the Enron scandal, which is “understandable.” Weiss said good and bad came as a result of its passage in 2002.

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The Best Way to Escape The Zombie Apocalypse – Buy a Sailboat!

Food

Companionship

Well, you have a problem here; as a rule, cruisers don’t carry firearms – something about ending up in 3rd world prisons seems to dissuade most people.  While you can attempt raids on land-based strongholds, this is not generally a good idea as these tend to be guarded by survivalist who shoot first, ask questions later.  Your better bet is to get creative with what you will likely find: flare guns, the occasion spear fishing setup, and lots and lots of little tiny pocketknives.  Consider creating oars that double as weapons by attaching knife blades to them.  Don’t dismiss the value of a good whack with a frying pan, either.

Fuel

Ah yes, zombies.  They love the night, hide in unexpected places, and desperately seek to consume your flesh – but they don’t swim.  The most dedicated might, perhaps, walk along the riverbed to get across, but they’re slow; also, I’ve never seen them crossing large bodies of water, like oceans.  As long as you’re in the ocean you could easily pull up anchor to escape once you saw the throng heading into the waves towards your anchored vessel.  Give it at least one good growing season so you can trade your fish for some tasty zucchini.

Small or large, your sailboat will have a place to sleep.  Granted, it may be a little small, or require a gymnastics background to get in to, but it’s there.  Keep your sailing range to the equator and you won’t even need blankets.  More talented sailors will choose to move up and down their chosen coastline to take advantage of the best weather.  It’s always possible that a hurricane has cleaned a coastal area of zombies and you’ll have time to go ashore and stretch your legs before the inland zombies repopulate the area.

Look for small islands that never had people to start with.  Of course this means they’re either uninhabitable, or wildlife refuges.  Go for the refuge, but watch out for the ranger if you do.  It would totally suck to let down your guard only to find that some randomly infected/affected park ranger is roaming the island hoping for careless sailors.  This is a good place to test the ‘zombie bait’ plan..  Search any abandoned boats you come across for the rusting cans of beans they all carry. Just get the good stuff and the beans.

Once you find that “clean” island to live on, you’re golden.  All you have to do is wait for all the zombies on the continents to die out and you can head back home.  You might want to give some consideration to the animalistic mentality that will be prevalent among survivors and try to calculate how long it will take for civilization to re-establish itself.  Plenty of seaweed is edible, and you can always plan raids on areas that appear to be zombie free.  You’ll have plenty of time to hang out offshore and watch for activity.

The wind[1] powers your home, and you don’t need to go ashore to get it.  Your sailboat should be equipped with a spare set of sails and a good sewing machine to keep the boat’s power source in optimum condition.  If you do need to refill the engine now and again, most marinas have a fuel dock with no house nearby for zombies to hide in.  A quick trip in to fuel up, maybe grab some water, and you are off, away from the dangerous shoreline.  Another advantage is that docks are usually clear so you’ll see the zombies coming as soon as their feet hit the wood.

It’s hard to rank these with regard to importance as some are interdependent while others are advantageous, but not critical.  It is also difficult to be sure that all the most common concepts are covered, such as, what if your sailboat is on a lake?  Should you be more worried about survivors swamping your boat trying to escape land or zombies walking along the lake bottom?  Most of the most critical ideas can be modified for lake survival and perhaps adapted to escaping down a river.  If you will be considering a river escape, you’ll want a powerboat, since zombies won’t be inclined to open draw bridges for you.  Get yourself a sailboat once you’ve reached the shore, and apply the following concepts:

If you’ve been able to save some friends along with yourself, you had better really like these people.  Even when you’ve managed to trade your way up to something giant that sails, your living space will still be pretty danged small when compared to the houses you all used to live in.  With enough people, though, you could always do sort of a “Survivor” plan and have secret alliances that choose who will be used as bait, should you miscalculate and run into some serious zombie action.  Maybe seeking out nests of survivors would be a good idea after all.

Entertainment

Shelter

 

Destination

Parts

No self respecting zombie would ever choose to live in a boat, so every marina you come across will be filled with abandoned boats just waiting for you to strip them of all the necessary gear.  A few things, like radios, won’t be of much use, unless you believe there are pockets of survivors calling out their locations.  I can’t imagine any of them would be giving you weather reports so unless you’re looking for survivors (and I would highly recommend against that as there always seems to be one or two infected people amongst them) don’t worry about a radio. Being able to distance yourself from the horde of undead is only one reason to plan on using your sailboat to survive the apocalypse.

The one thing cruisers have in abundance is movies.  Sailing gives you a lot of free time and you can only watch the waves for so long. The downside is that people that live on sailboats tend to be cheap, which means that most of your viewing selections (from your vessel, and salvage from abandoned vessels) will be the bad, bad slasher-type DVDs commonly found in the $1 bin at discount stores.  The ghost-of-the-psychopathic-ice-climber-taking-out-the-teenagers-one-by-one type of movies.  Of course, many zombie DVDs also fall into this category, so perhaps you’ll have access to a lot of training videos.  Bonus!

Weapons

It might not be the most exciting diet, but you’ll be able to eat all the fish you can catch.  With no other people fishing, the sea life will increase rapidly and your chances of actually catching something will improve greatly

Offshore Gambling Operators to fall under Secondary UK Online Gambling Tax

As a result of this, the government has decided to apply a secondary tax on all such offshore gambling ventures.

The commission that has been formed by the UK officials has been established with the purpose of analysing the relevance, bearing and outcome, should a secondary taxation be implemented on the offshore operators. However, there are other ventures like Rank PLC that believe giving offshore ventures the advantage of not having to pay tax is against the EU legislation.. Owing to such rules, offshore ventures have managed to cash in much more than their UK-based operators have been able to do. Speaking about the issue, Ralph Topping, CEO, William Hill, said, “Money will always find a way out. More people will go overseas or to fly-by-night, unregulated sites where the consumer is not protected. If the stricter laws are sanctioned, such disparity will soon be a thing of the past.

The survey revealed that should the taxation be levied on such operators, gamblers and betters in UK would not shy away from playing at unlicensed sites, just to avoid the complications. Going by the report, tough times are predicted for offshore online gambling operators as the government plans to impose taxation laws that promise to be more stringent than they have been in the past. The results have been worth a glance.

In the recent turn of events, UK officials have decided to investigate the online gambling taxation scenario in the country and have declared that a commissioning body has already been formed for the same. Views of many of experts from the industry as well as several gambling ventures representatives will be considered by the committee before a conclusion is arrived at. I hope the Government sees sense on this.” For the very purpose of evading high taxes in the UK, William Hill had moved its operations headquarter from the country to Gibraltar. With this new law being passed, William Hill would be back to the mess it was in three years back. However, since the time of its inception, this has come under scrutiny and has been widely criticised not just by local land-based casinos and betting establishments related to sports but also by several prominent politicians and public figures of the country. There is a major discrepancy in the profits earned by the offshore and local ventures, thanks to the extremely lenient taxation rules that are levied on the offshore operators. With a growing number of people voicing their opinions against this glaring differentiation, the government of UK has been forced to rethink its policies. Currently, the offshore operators who provide online gambling facilities in Britain have an upper hand on the British operators which has, understandably, disgruntled the local land and online operators. This survey conducted by William Hill also brought to light the fact that if the tax is 10%, ventures would lose 27% of their revenue while if the tax is 15%, ventures would lose as much as 40% of their revenue. With so much talk surrounding the UK government’s impending secondary taxation and licensing implementation, legendary William Hill decided to go ahead with its independent survey.

The relatively easier law that governs offshore gambling ventures was adopted by the UK online gambling legislation in the year 2005