Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sub-prime crisis is 'Enron all over again'

I don't have alert systems coded for "Enron". No need. So much of current finance has its roots in or ties to the crooked E.

From the New Zealand Herald:

The sub-prime mortgage crisis shows the lessons of Enron's collapse have not been heeded, says Bethany McLean, the Fortune magazine reporter famous for breaking the story that the energy giant was an emperor with no clothes.

A lack of transparency, the use of off-balance sheet vehicles and the dodging of responsibility underlie the carnage on credit markets.

"It's Enron all over again," McLean said in an address to journalism educators in Wellington.

In financial markets, innovation would inevitably get ahead of regulation.

"Ordinary people end up paying a very high price, while those responsible walk away with millions. Capital markets depend on trust. If that breaks down, we've got a really big problem."

McLean co-wrote a book about Enron's rise and fall, The Smartest Guys in the Room, which was the basis of a documentary.

Enron went swiftly from being the darling of the market and the seventh largest company in the United States to its biggest corporate bankruptcy....MORE