The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room

I just finished watching the documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (a reference to what Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling were called by the traders at Enron) based upon the book of the same name.

The documentary made pretty clear what went on at Enron: they booked projected (read: “made up”) future revenue (read: “haven't collected yet”) the moment they closed the deal (read: “our stock just went up”) and they had to keep moving, keep booking projects to maintain the fiction of their company, which started out trading natural gas, then expanded into electricity (most notably on the west coast) and even into Internet bandwidth (which didn't go at all, but that still didn't stop them from booking projected future revenues at the time).

What I did not realize was the extent of the scandal. Not only was Enron and Arthur Andersen (who shredded anything dealing with Enron during the investigation) but to major banks as well. Billions of dollars were floating around lining everybody's pockets, except for those that atually invested in Enron.

It's guys like these that make me sad that debtor's prisons don't exist anymore (and if ordered to make full restitution, you know that's where these guys would end up).

The movie itself was made in 2005, and since then, Lay and Skilling have been found guilty of fraud and conspiracy. Now all that remains to be seen is how much they have to give back, how much time they'll spend in Federal prison and who they'll end up “marrying” while there.

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