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Deals Well With The Complexity
on 20 March 2012
If Enron hadn't existed we would have had to make it up. The company was founded on amorality and constructed with the all but explicit intention of deceiving investors for management gain. In the classic style, as the project becomes more and more successful, the depth and the extent of the deception becomes greater until finally they run out of lies to tell and there is an immediate collapse.
The book is complex necessarily but the authors do a great job in taking us through the detail without blinding us. As regards the key characters (and there are upwards of a dozen)the authors seem to have adopted something of a formulaic approach to their characterisation. At times it seems like they are working off a table that sets out each characters home town, parental occupation, college and early career. You are left feeling that you know what these people got up to but you don't feel that you know them and you are, largely, left to draw your own conclusions as to why people did what they did.
That said you don't have to be a pyscho-analyst to see that Enron was an exercise in insider greed supported by wrong headed group-think. This allowed a cadre of talented managers, bankers and advisors to convince themselves and others that, in deceiving shareholders and overtly undermining the intention of regulation and in becoming multi-millionaires, they were, in fact "on the side of the angels."
So when you hear Lloyd Blankfein tell us that Goldman Sachs is "doing God's work" - how does that make you feel.