Thursday, February 28, 2002

Enron-related stories keep piling up in the newspapers. Most of them aren't news; one story about the lifestyles of the rich and larcenous, Ken Lay's close relationship with Dubya (and the political favors it brought him), or yet another Fastow scheme to bury a loan on the balance sheet as anything, anything but debt, looks pretty much like another.

Here's a brief roundup of stories that at least present new variations on the common themes:

An Enron employee's letter to the California congressional delegation claims that during the California energy crisis, Enron traders created artificial shortages by artificially congesting transmission lines. I've seen allegations before of market manipulations by other companies, but this is the first I've seen of manipulation tied to Enron directly.

While stiffing laid-off employees on their compensation, Enron has paid its executives yet another round of retention bonuses. The theory is that the company is paying these people not to leave --- never mind that some recipients of the first round of $55 million in "retention bonuses" spent most of the time for which they were "retained" lining up other jobs --- and some of the biggest winners were the very folks who wrecked the company in the first place.

Lastly, here's one bit of Jeff Skilling's literally incredible testimony before the Senate which hasn't been written up in the stories I've seen. Skilling has consistently defended the company's financial reports as complete, correct, and transparent. But on at least one occasion when a reporter asked sharp questions about them, Skilling was unable to answer. He didn't understand them himself --- perhaps understandable in light of the earlier bizarre exchange with Sen. Boxer in which Skilling, a Harvard MBA, claimed not to know whether it is proper for a company to use manipulations of its own stock to alter its financial statements...


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