Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reputation and liquidity

The Economist amidst a look at the Skilling evidence, makes the connection between Enron and the recent liquidity crisis for investment banks.
"For many people, the mere fact of Enron’s collapse is evidence that Mr Skilling and his old mentor and boss, Ken Lay, who died between his conviction and sentencing, presided over a fraudulent house of cards. Yet Mr Skilling has always argued that Enron’s collapse largely resulted from a loss of trust in the firm by its financial-market counterparties, who engaged in the equivalent of a bank run. Certainly, the amounts of money involved in the specific frauds identified at Enron were small compared to the amount of shareholder value that was ultimately destroyed when it plunged into bankruptcy."

This is a point made by, amongest others, Malcolm Gladwell. Gladwell asserts that it was the loss of reputation and the drying up of business (as was also seen at Arthur Anderson, that destroyed Enron rather than the fraud. Gladwell also suggests that Enron SIV 'practices' were not that unusual.

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