The End of Enron?

It's not just unplugged, Enron is pretty much un-done.

With the pull-out of a bail-out, its debt is officially "junk" and investors say its promises have been "bunk."  Including one from Enron's own chairman, Kenneth Lay,  in October about the value of his company's stock.

"We may not see 80 to 90 dollar prices for awhile," Lay said on Fox News Channel.  "I think by most valuation techniques we're certainly still worth a lot more than $33, 34 dollars when you have the kind of strong earnings growth we've been demonstrating in our core business."

But those earnings turned out to be some fuzzy math that short-circuited Enron's future.

Now some 20,000 employees have been zapped and many more investors have been burned by a stock that's now trading for just pennies.

So, should we have seen it coming?

Morningstar's Pat Dorsey noted that, "there were certainly red flags that could have been raised earlier this year… company insiders selling stock at the same time they're publicly flogging the shares to investors."

There is not much investors can do now, except perhaps remember one of the most basic lessons in investing.

"When a company's financial statements appear unclear and appear opaque, no matter how good the company's financial performance, pass don't buy," said Dorsey. 

There are big names — including financial giants Citigroup and JP Morgan — who should have taken a "pass," too. But they are big enough to see this through.

"Many people in energy and finance are involved in this and, unfortunately everyone's going to get hurt, a little bit," said Primecharter's Scott Bleier. "But it's not the kind of hurt that's going to affect the overall economy in any major way."

But what about prices on Wall Street?  So far, the markets have weathered well not only a war but a recession.  So chances are they will take what could be the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history in stride, too.