Even if you don’t own any of their stock or any stock at all you will want to read this.
What Enron corporate officers did with their accounting firm is nothing new. It has been going on for years, but recently has become more egregious. Hiding facts from stockholders by showing Annual Reports with tiny footnotes has been happening for years. Even experienced accountants have trouble understanding what various financial statements mean. What chance does the little investor have? And that is the whole idea. The insiders don’t want the outsiders to know what they are doing with the company money.
You have been told by your broker and by brokerage company advertising that you should do your research before you buy. You can research until you are blue in the face and still not know. For years I have been preaching that research is worthless.
You can go to nexus of all research companies – Morningstar – and still the report they give you will not tell you the whole true story. I have recently been told that Morningstar is about 6 months behind in the posting of their material. Maybe and maybe not, but it doesn’t make any difference if the facts they are reporting are lies. This not to fault Morningstar as they are merely a conduit of information.
There should be a lot of good things happen as a result of the bankruptcy of Enron. The duplicity of Arthur Andersen is despicable. They were acting both as consultants and auditors. The consultants were telling the company what to do and how to get away with it and the auditors were rubber stamping their actions. It’s like have the fox guard the hen house.
For some time the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been looking into recommendations by in-house analysts of brokerage firms who have made Initial Public Offerings. These analysts should keep their mouths shut. Can you imagine any analyst keeping his job if he should happen to tell the truth about a stock his company was pushing? Those beautiful full color reports from your broker belong in the wastebasket.
It is about time that the SEC cracks down on both these types of scams. And that is what they are. Anything to get the investor (you) to part with his money.
For the next year we are going to see more Enron-type accounting scandals. These will cause the investor to become very wary about what to buy so he won’t buy anything. This will cause the stock market to be weak. Each time another one hits the fan there will be additional selling. The basic confidence of the investor has been shaken and it will be a long time before it returns.
I do sympathize with those who lost their money in Enron, but I do hope it will have the effect of activating some of the Washington beaurocrats to act to protect the millions who have not yet been victimized.