I find it fascinating that former Enron honchos Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling will now be sentenced on September 11th. An anniversary many of us would rather forget. And a corporate scandal many of us still cannot comprehend. Joined as if to put some closure on an era.
It's safe to say the attacks on our soil, and Enron's attack on corporate honesty did a double-whammy on our economy. They brought on a recession. And they brought on a lot of second-guessing. Things we assumed we were prepared for but were not. Chief executives we assumed ran their companies honorably but did not.
But here's what they didn't bring on: Hopelessness and resignation.
When 9/11 hit, many thought we were sitting ducks.
When Enron hit, many thought all stocks were dogs.
I remember one media report saying a long, deep recession was inevitable. We know in retrospect it was relatively short and shallow. We were told Enron was just the tip of the financial iceberg. — If so, it was a small iceberg.
Adding up all the memorable scandals of the period...Enron, Tyco, Global Crossing, Adelphia Communications...I count about a dozen companies brought up on inproprieties or worse. A dozen. Not the hundreds predicted.
Twelve. In a universe of 12,000 publicly listed companies.
You do the math. I already have. Twelve versus twelve thousand. A reminder that while the bad guys get the press, the good guys just press on. Just like we did after that tragic day.
All coming to an eerie sense of closure five years after that day.
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