Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room
October 18, 2008 7:57 AM   Subscribe

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room It's been a few years since this documentary came out, and if you haven't seen it yet, you must. Just click and watch. The film is artistically made, enlightening, and ultimately infuriating. It takes on greater resonance in light of the current economic climate. (Too many previous posts to list.)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner (70 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
Link goes to the free google video version, hence the post.
posted by mecran01 at 8:06 AM on October 18, 2008


Excellent! Thanks for this Fuzzy Skinner.

Yeah, in light of "prosecutors were looking into whether Lehman executives including Fuld misled investors involved in the $6 billion infusion of capital announced by Lehman in June" this film is especially timely.
posted by nickyskye at 8:09 AM on October 18, 2008


That is a great documentary. "Brilliant Innovators" devise radical new ways to exploit a marketplace leading to financial ruin, sound familiar?
posted by mattholomew at 8:11 AM on October 18, 2008


It certainly is relevant. They are very similar in that both Enron and today's crisis revolve around largely unregulated derivatives, but today's market in credit default swaps is truly huge and scary.
posted by caddis at 8:14 AM on October 18, 2008


I saw this film when it first aired, and bought the DVD soon after. Over the last 3 years I must have watched it over a dozen times, and every time I find myself shaking my head in disbelief. The parallel between turning fictional energy values into a sellable financial instrument, and the recent epidemic of doing the same thing with unqualified mortgages is striking.

We seem to be truly living in a financial "wild west," where the sheriff only bothers to put his badge on once the bodies are piled up in the saloon.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:18 AM on October 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


for those interested in learning more about the beauty of deregulation, Thomas Frank’s The Wrecking Crew is interesting reading
posted by matteo at 8:21 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Why is there not a guillotine at Wall & Broadway yet?
posted by Ludi at 8:33 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


This Enron -- it resonates?
posted by dhartung at 8:36 AM on October 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Why is there not a guillotine at Wall & Broadway yet?

excuse me, this is America, we choose gunpowder-based violence.
that froggy contraption involves physics and stuff to work.
posted by Busithoth at 8:41 AM on October 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


I just received this in my Netflix yesterday. Wish I had watched it, but the bf wanted to watch I Am Legend, which I found to be a super stressful movie! But I wonder which one is scarier.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:43 AM on October 18, 2008


You may call me calloused, but Ken Lay got off too easy with just a heart attack.
posted by pepcorn at 9:02 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've Got The Power! - NSFW language (From here).

Unregulated Capitalism FTW!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:15 AM on October 18, 2008


My communist dentist in the East Village totally predicted the Enron debacle, as soon as energy deregulation was announced. I suppose I might have shared his prescience, but under the circumstances my take was, "mmhmm, mgmmm."
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:31 AM on October 18, 2008 [5 favorites]


"Brilliant Innovators" devise radical new ways to exploit a marketplace leading to financial ruin, sound familiar?

No? Did I miss anything?
posted by DreamerFi at 9:33 AM on October 18, 2008


My Communist Dentist? Wasn't that a sitcom in the sixties?
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 9:34 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


and ultimately infuriating

I saw this back when it came out and must say I wasn't all that infuriated.
I realize I am perhaps the only person in the US who actually felt this way (and it might surprise you to hear that I lost a good chunk via my 401k thanks to them).

instead I felt kind sorry for the players. here are a bunch of guys trying to make a (big) buck. a small ethical lapse is made. a mistake. we all make mistakes. covering a loss up until they can make good on it? forgiven. so they try to cover it up but it only gets worse. you know what they say about the coverup in relation to the crime. on the story goes and we see a bunch of guys convinced they can still contain the spill without anyone else noticing they're getting wet feet. finally the floodwater comes through the windows and the sandcastle collapses. everyone loses. tons of people hurt.

kenneth lay and co hurt people and they deserved to be punished. what the movie did not do however was convince me that they planned to do just that. I walked out thinking about how sad it was that a couple of incompetent managers had destroyed their life's work and that of many whose lives they touched. they may have exploded a massive bomb* but they didn't set out to do that. they set out to collect as much glycerine as possible and thought they could store it without having it blow up.

*there are those who'd argue sarbanes-oxley is the worst byproduct.
posted by krautland at 9:45 AM on October 18, 2008


No krautland, they didn't set out to screw all the the US. But they never for a moment thought about the consequences of their actions. At all. It's called hubris. They deserve far worse than they got. Same with the jacktards who have collectively messed up the economy now. Short term gains is all these jerks can think about.

Oh and "a small ethical lapse," please!
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 9:57 AM on October 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


This economic climate? Wall Street banks in $70bn staff payout
Pay and bonus deals equivalent to 10% of US government bail-out package
posted by adamvasco at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Who among us has not had a small ethical lapse that has cost the savings, children's college funds, and pensions for thousands of employees and investors? Those without this sin, go ahead and throw that stone. I would wager none of us are so noble.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:04 AM on October 18, 2008 [11 favorites]


Thanks for the link. I read the book a couple of years ago and aaarrrrgggghhh!!!!! I get mad just thinking about it. Every time I hear about "shortages" and "tight supplies" of any commodity I think of Enron's manipulation of the energy market and just assume we're being lied to and cheated. Thanks Kenny, for giving me yet another thing to be perpeptually angry about. I hope you're enjoying whichever circle of Hell you're presently residing in.
posted by MikeMc at 10:22 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Try also reading the book Conspiracy of Fools which (obviously) goes into much more detail.
posted by Wink Ricketts at 10:30 AM on October 18, 2008


Enron cover up 9-11
posted by hortense at 10:33 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The original book version is actually much better than the documentary; a lot of things were simplified or left out (for time, presumably) in the film. If you really want to be shocked and appalled at Enron's actions, go read the book.
posted by Asparagirl at 10:56 AM on October 18, 2008



Who wants to go in with me in a new company? Manufacture and sale of torches and pitchforks. There should be serious demand in the near future. Else we as a nation are not going to make it.
posted by notreally at 11:09 AM on October 18, 2008


I walked out thinking about how sad it was that a couple of incompetent managers had destroyed their life's work

You do realize that a company can be sued for basically anything, including sexual harassment (even with strict policies in place--there was a major Supreme Court case about this a few years ago) for the wrongdoing and stupidity of lower-level managers, right? Legally and ethically speaking, the buck stops with executives, always. If the don't have a clue as to what is going on below them, they have organizational issues, ones they were hired big bucks to either keep from occurring, at best, and at least work out before things get out of hand. To sympathize with them to this extreme would, if you were in any position of authority, make you a pushover/doormat.
posted by raysmj at 11:13 AM on October 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I heard a great idea for a Reality TV Show the other day on CBC radio c/o some British thinker whose name I didn't catch. Hunt down all the rogue banker and Enron types out there but don't put them on trial, just put them all together on a deserted jungle island "Survivor" style, except make sure there's no way off the island and that there isn't enough food to go around, particularly meat ... then we can all just sit back and watch them cannibalize each other.

Call it "Law Of The Jungle".
posted by philip-random at 11:17 AM on October 18, 2008


that froggy contraption involves physics and stuff to work.

Gravity is just a theory, after all.
posted by Cyrano at 11:38 AM on October 18, 2008


let the market work! enough with the govt interference...
Adam Smith once said: What? Me worry?
posted by Postroad at 11:48 AM on October 18, 2008


In recent Enron news.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:32 PM on October 18, 2008


Belle O'Cosity: never for a moment thought about the consequences of their actions. At all. It's called hubris.

or ignorance. or incompetence. or parochial. hubris actually is more of a byproduct.

They deserve far worse than they got. Same with the jacktards who have collectively messed up the economy now
you want revenge, not justice. your argument is to punish the driver after the accident just as harshly regardless of whether he was drunk, intended to kill or lost control because a cat ran across the road.

raysmj: you are right, the buck stops with executives. I did not suggest they shouldn't have been punished. all I wished to convey was that I couldn't passionately hate them the way I could hate hitler or bin laden.
posted by krautland at 12:59 PM on October 18, 2008


But where in the world is Enron's Top Management ?

Kenneth Lay : under three feets of ground, and sadly so, from year 2006.

Linda Lay ( Kenneth's spouse) : allegedly Mrs. sold roughly 500,000 shares of Enron ten minutes to thirty minutes before the information that Enron was collapsing went public.

Jeffrey Keith "Jeff" Skilling : serving a 24 years sentence at a minimun security facility.

(Skilling's wife and his ex-wife. Carter sold more than $1 million in Enron stock in October and November 2000. His ex-wife, Susan Skilling Lowe, exercised Enron options for $14 million that October, about the time Enron's desperate attempt to unload unprofitable international assets fell through. Skilling testified the sales were coincidental.)

Paula Rieker : facing a possible 10 years long sentence, but as she cooperated with justice as witness she may end up with half a million restitution.

Richard Causey : serving time from 2007 , scheduled to be released in October 2011.
posted by elpapacito at 1:12 PM on October 18, 2008


Good documentary except to much random psycho babble. I still can't believe Bush gets a pass on his Enron connections.

I have to say that Lou Pai comes off as a bit of a bad ass evil genius. Get a divorce, marry a stripper and get out with 280 million a couple of years before the shit hits the fan, not a bad move.
posted by afu at 1:29 PM on October 18, 2008


Who among us has not had a small ethical lapse that has cost the savings, children's college funds, and pensions for thousands of employees and investors?

I see this a lot, and I find it strange. People seem to take a strange moral pride in their powerlessness, as though the fact that they're unimportant and don't really have the ability to effect anything for better or worse somehow makes them a better person.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 1:38 PM on October 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


So, how exactly were they going to trade shares of weather, anyway?
posted by Clay201 at 1:46 PM on October 18, 2008


I see this a lot, and I find it strange. People seem to take a strange moral pride in their powerlessness, as though the fact that they're unimportant and don't really have the ability to effect anything for better or worse somehow makes them a better person.

Same thing could be said about trolling metafiliter.
posted by afu at 2:00 PM on October 18, 2008


So, how exactly were they going to trade shares of weather, anyway?

I had the same question. Weather derivatives.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 2:03 PM on October 18, 2008


anything could be said about trolling metafiliter.
posted by krautland at 2:03 PM on October 18, 2008


Clay201 -- "So, how exactly were they going to trade shares of weather, anyway?"

Weather derivatives. Somewhat different from financial derivatives (there isn't really an underlying instrument to derive value from), weather derivatives allow market participants to essentially purchase insurance if the weather is adverse.

For example, here in London lots of pubs with outdoor seating realise significant percentages of their annual gross (and hence net profits) during the June to September period.

Weather derivatives allow these firms to smooth their earnings. Purchase a weather derivative that pays off if rainy days exceed a contract specified barrier. If there are sunny days all around, the contract doesn't pay off. Either way, you've minimised your revenue and thus earnings volatility.

Big business, traded mostly on CME, maybe a year ago UBS launched a Global Warming index.
posted by Mutant at 2:10 PM on October 18, 2008


Timing is everything. I spent seven years working on a SAP ERP implementation, one of the biggest ones ever. Accenture was our 'integrator.' When the project started, circa Y2K, they were known as Arthur Anderson Consulting. They had a contest to rename the firm - the winner got a trip to Australia if memory serves - and the name change took effect on 01/01/01.
posted by fixedgear at 3:44 PM on October 18, 2008


I see this a lot, and I find it strange. People seem to take a strange moral pride in their powerlessness, as though the fact that they're unimportant and don't really have the ability to effect anything for better or worse somehow makes them a better person.

Uh, dude, I'd tend to say I'm an insignificant insect in the grand scheme of things, but if I decided to do my employer "a favor" by suppressing a failing result for a release test (thereby preventing them from having to destroy a million dollar batch of only slightly unacceptable drug) I think I could get some people a one way ticket to the morgue. I don't think Enron managed that.

I don't do this for a lot of reasons, but mostly it's because I have this vague understanding that my job has an effect and that there will be a future beyond the end of trading on Wall Street today. Well, that and I'm not some kind of sociopath.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:42 PM on October 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


you want revenge, not justice. your argument is to punish the driver after the accident just as harshly regardless of whether he was drunk, intended to kill or lost control because a cat ran across the road.

The guys from Enron didn't just have an accident, though. To use your accident analogy -- and your summation of the experience above -- they didn't just hit a guy. They hit him, then broke his ribs trying to do CPR on him -- see, they didn't know how to do CPR, but wanted to try anyway -- saw that it wasn't working, saw they had broken his ribs, but kept going anyway, forcing his ribs to puncture his lung and kill him. and then, after killing him, they first tried burying him, and then dug him back up and set him up so it looked like he had died of a heart attack because he'd been scared by a bear; and by the time the police got to the scene, they were halfway through constructing their fake grizzly bear effigy and knocking the dent out of the hood of their own car.

There IS a point at which "covering up a mistake" just plain goes too far.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:51 PM on October 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


No, I do not want revenge. I want reckless individuals to be held to account. Is that such a bad thing? Out here in bring-your-self-up-by-your-bootstraps-land we are told that we must be accountable for every step we make. But people like Ken Lay, had he not had a heart attack, are still living high off the hog, and not accountable for anything. We have a $700 billion bailout coming up. Do you think the people who caused that problem are going to live on the street? NO, they will be living in their comfortable McMansions, while the people who trusted them struggle.

And no, hubris is not a by-product. Had they not had tremendous hubris, they would never have done the shit they did. Look up the word, I don't think you understand it.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 7:11 PM on October 18, 2008


You know, this kind of action wont slow down til we start puttin some wall street heads on pikes and leaving them there for the rest of the crooks to see. Some clowns bust the economy, and the biggest fallout for them is they dont get the whole 35 million dollar bonus they earned. Another guy steals a pizza cuz he is hungry, and three strikes his way int 25 years of hard time. WHITE COLLAR CRIME, Corporate Lobbyist, and the ratio of corporate officers pay to rank & file. Three faces of the same god damn cancer. If i had a rocket launcher, etc.
posted by jcworth at 7:50 PM on October 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Great. Sounds like we can look forward to a weather derivative related crisis in another decade or so.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:05 PM on October 18, 2008


This is a fascinating documentary in light of the ongoing Lehman Brothers investigations and financial crisis in general. A lot more systemic corruption has yet to play out. Enron is sort of a face or human interest story on a much larger trend.
posted by stbalbach at 8:31 PM on October 18, 2008


Alex Gibney (Writer, Director) also wrote and directed Taxi To The Dark Side. Also a MUST watch.
posted by spish at 8:41 PM on October 18, 2008


By the way, even though I linked to the Google video to make it easy to watch this, I do recommend buying the DVD as well. The commentary is excellent, and provides a lot of insight into the artistic choices made (from the not-so-subtle metaphor of the opening flyover resulting in the Enron building turning upside-down, to less obvious symbolism), as well as a wealth of additional information about the events and people featured.

There are also deleted scenes, the original Fortune magazine articles, more interviews, and a "making of" feature. Spend the $15 or so, and you won't regret it. Plus, the picture quality is gorgeous on an HDTV using an upconverting DVD player. (This was made my HD Net, but no Blueray version?)
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 9:21 PM on October 18, 2008


They deserve far worse than they got. Same with the jacktards who have collectively messed up the economy now
you want revenge, not justice.


I want them to pay back what they stole from us.

Instead, they get to keep it. That's not justice, that's asinine.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:43 PM on October 18, 2008


EmpressCallipygos: you're right. "we can fix this" became a classic case of FUBAR and that's where criminal activity needed to be punished. tragedy, imho.

Belle O'Cosity I want reckless individuals to be held to account.
yeah, but you want to hang the kid who ran over your dog because she was texting while behind the wheel.

Look up the word, I don't think you understand it.
oh, I understand it very well, don't worry your pretty little head about it. but hubris isn't the crime, it isn't the cause and it isn't the effect. you want to punish people for who they are, not what they do. if hubris is cause for punishment, long noses are next.

Do you think the people who caused that problem are going to live on the street? NO, they will be living in their comfortable McMansions, while the people who trusted them struggle.

mansions is inflammatory, you don't know that, you just say that because it makes you feel good. (you're quite the righteous one.) alas, they shouldn't have to live on the street. you didn't "trust them" out of altruism and you are not the victim. you signed on out of egotistical motives and you got burned. they got burned, too. the chairman of bear stearns lost 104 million of his personal wealth in a day. so fucking what he still has millions left, that's not exactly walking away unscathed.

but as I already mentioned, you're quite the righteous one. you want to smell their flesh burning.


five fresh fish I want them to pay back what they stole from us. Instead, they get to keep it.
that's cute. who stole from you, what did they steal and how please? are you angry because your 401k is down? the money you chose to invest in this way? do you think the banker "has it"? this sounds like you are just looking for someone else to blame. you'd have a case if someone had broken into your bedroom and stolen your piggybank.
posted by krautland at 4:24 AM on October 19, 2008


Ok. I watched it. It IS scarier than I Am Legend.

And can you imagine what the work environment was at that place? With nobody holding anybody accountable to anything? I bet you got every level of bullshit going on at that place...petty theft (stapler? stapler?), complaints ignored, expense report abuses for all, random firings and hirings, lawsuits, you name it. They got away with murder. And then there was the whole Enron thing.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:30 AM on October 19, 2008


Brrr. That film gave me a pervasive sense of dread. A highly appropriate film for the season, methinks.

On a tangent:

Ok. I watched it. It IS scarier than I Am Legend.

Um... that's not exactly a difficult feat, there. Hell, I've seen commercials for dishwashing liquid that are scarier than that Will Smith vehicle.
posted by Pope Gustafson I at 9:50 AM on October 19, 2008


You're a pathetic apologist, krautland.

The chairman of BS was worth a billion freakin' dollars. He lost a few hundred million. He will never, ever notice that loss: it is impossible to spend what he has left. The quality of Cayne's life is wholly independent of money at this point: he has and always will have more money than he needs.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people no longer have a retirement fund because of Cayne's mismanagement of his business. These people are flat-fucking-broke, and will be eating goddamn cat food at the age of sixty, because they trusted Cayne.

Cayne and his fellow pirateers told bald-faced lies about the security and value of their financial instruments.

Their deliberate deceptive actions have brought the viability of the United States as a global economic and political power to the brink of disaster. They have almost single-handledly destroyed the nation.

And you make excuses for them.

How stupid.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2008


Belle O'Cosity I want reckless individuals to be held to account.
yeah, but you want to hang the kid who ran over your dog because she was texting while behind the wheel.


I want to jail the drunk who ran over my wife because he was texting while snorting cocaine and getting a blowjob while behind the wheel.

The upper management of these corporations CHOSE to LIE about the nature of their investment vehicles. They CHOSE to make themselves super-wealthy by LYING to investors, CHEATING the system, and HIDING from accountability.

And they have literally destroyed nations.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:03 AM on October 19, 2008


metafilter: a small ethical lapse
posted by Kalthare at 11:36 AM on October 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


five fresh fish You're a pathetic apologist, krautland.
you should get your ad hominems under control. you do not know me.


worth a billion freakin' dollars. He lost a few hundred million. He will never, ever notice that loss
actually... he lost 37% of his declared net worth. my 401k is down 22%. so that's kind of appropriate. you are jealous of his paycheck and are getting thus carried away by your anger that he made so much more than you. the implication of your wish that he'd be reduced to nothing however is that everyone should be personally liable for any professional action they make. that sort of argumentation destroys all dependents with any such person. it punishes unjustly the innocent. the effect will not be that suddenly everyone acts as ethically and morally sound as we all might wish but that nobody will want to take any kind of responsibility or risk at all. guess what that would do to your 401k. your argument suggests that you lack the distance and vision to take any part in government.

my main gripe still is that almost everyone acts like an innocent victim when they are not. we chose to accept these insane arm mortgages, we chose to believe the sales pitch, we chose not to save up 20%, we chose to pay the sky-high housing prices, we chose to put it all on our cards. that credit is available doesn't mean it's not your fault when you take it, just as it's still your fault if you get fat from eating everything burger king has on its menu.

blaming someone else and calling for their heads is just a convenient way to declare yourself free of guilt and it means you will go right back to spending your tits off as soon as you can do so again. we have been light on personal responsibility and heavy on righteous indignation over the shortcomings of others up to now and it's high time we get back some balance.

you, five fresh fish, are not an innocent victim. but suit yourself, be righteous, point to all others. just know that doing so and calling someone else stupid is pretty damn funny.
posted by krautland at 12:05 PM on October 19, 2008


Correction: there is a Bluray version.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 1:09 PM on October 19, 2008


EmpressCallipygos: you're right. "we can fix this" became a classic case of FUBAR and that's where criminal activity needed to be punished.

So, to finish the analogy -- if you think this is the case, then why are you standing at the accident site and saying, "oh, don't take them to jail! The fact that he hit the guy, botched CPR, then tried to make a fake bear is the kind of thing ANYONE would have done!"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:15 PM on October 19, 2008


my main gripe still is that almost everyone acts like an innocent victim when they are not. we chose to accept these insane arm mortgages, we chose to believe the sales pitch, we chose not to save up 20%, we chose to pay the sky-high housing prices, we chose to put it all on our cards.

krautland, none of my investments were made in the financial instruments that have brought the nation to its knees.

I did not participate in ARM mortgages, nor did I knowingly participate in securities involved in any way with the mortgage industry, nor did I believe the sales pitch, I save my pennies, I did not pay sky-high housing prices, I do not run any credit debt.

And nonetheless, all my careful and wise investing has been crippled by the fallout out from this mess. A mess created by greedy people who LIED about the content, value, and risk profile of the investment packages they promoted. A mess created by greedy people who PAID OFF government officials to get laws passed that would allow them to do more of the same. A mess created by greedy people who are then being given bonuses of 10% of the bailout package. Who will retire to their villas, completely unharmed in any distinguishable way in their lifestyle.

Meanwhile, I have to rebuild my wealth from ground zero. Because liars and cheaters fucked the entire system so badly that everyone is affected.

I am disgusted that you make excuses for these greedy creeps. I am disgusted that you feel they should not be held more accountable for the mess they have made than I.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:47 PM on October 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


bethany mclean on colbert :P cf!
posted by kliuless at 6:11 PM on October 19, 2008


krautland: my main gripe still is that almost everyone acts like an innocent victim when they are not. we chose to accept these insane arm mortgages, we chose to believe the sales pitch, we chose not to save up 20%, we chose to pay the sky-high housing prices, we chose to put it all on our cards. that credit is available doesn't mean it's not your fault when you take it, just as it's still your fault if you get fat from eating everything burger king has on its menu.

When the Smiths default on a $100,000 mortgage because they willingly became house-poor, its their fault.

When Wachovia and WaMu defaults on billion-dollar loans loosing other people's money in the process, because they were over-leveraged when an investment failed to deliver expected yields, that's an entirely different problem.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 6:19 AM on October 20, 2008


EmpressCallipygos: oh, don't take them to jail!

that is not at all what I am saying. what I initially said was that I can't really be as angry with/at them as I can be at a person like osama bin laden. I have no problem calling for that man's head but lobbing the enron guys in the same league seems excessive to me. the punishment I would like to see should be just, appropriate and proportionate. I want justice to be dispassionate, not revengeful. to say "that person needs to live on the street, take everything he owns" is 'off with his head' mentality to me. it scares me shitless to think I might ever make any mistake if society got to judge and punish me in this way. it would stop me from taking risks, it would stop me from trying. it would lead me to not stick out my head. the fear is that a disproportionate downside to risk would lead to lack of forward movement in the economy, in society, anywhere.

five fresh fish: I'm actually -and sincerely- proud of you if you stood out from the masses and did not take what was available to you (let's assume it was) and went overboard. I think I did fairly well in that regard too but have to admit I did invest my 401k in a somewhat risky fashion. sadly though that you is appropriate when taken as plural and not singular. you -we- the society went overboard and now we point to "those guy" who ruined everything and by implication alone.

A mess created by greedy people who PAID OFF government officials to get laws passed that would allow them to do more of the same.

first of all - everyone can be described as greedy and doing so serves nobody. it's masturbatory to do so as it only satisfies you and produces nothing. cut it out. secondly, "paying off" is a reference to a specific instance? or a pattern? I pay dues to the ACLU and EFF. how is that any different from me paying a lobbyist? we all take influence where we can, we all shape politics when possible. that's legitimate. I'm proud of my contributions. you seem to advocate that we should do nothing and just wait for whatever rules are being handed down.

And nonetheless, all my careful and wise investing has been crippled by the fallout out from this mess. (...) Meanwhile, I have to rebuild my wealth from ground zero. Because liars and cheaters fucked the entire system so badly that everyone is affected."

I don't buy that for a second. if you got wiped out (as in lost 100%), you cannot have done your due diligence. why weren't you more divested? did you avoid T-bonds because you wanted a higher interest rate? take some fucking responsibility for a change. you are an adult, not some five year-old who didn't know he had to watch out for himself.

I am disgusted that you feel they should not be held more accountable for the mess they have made than I.

I am disgusted you sincerely advocate injustice to become a matter of principle. everyone needs to be the same in front of the law.

your problem is that you refuse to accept any personal responsibility.
posted by krautland at 12:11 PM on October 20, 2008


Krautland to fff: your problem is that you refuse to accept any personal responsibility.

On the contrary, I think that personal responsibility is exactly what FFF is asking for.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on October 20, 2008


That's what I thought, too. The liars and cheaters are getting off scot free. None of them will face any real consequence for their actions. Meanwhile, the global crisis they created through their underhanded dealings teeters on the brink of outright disaster.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:54 PM on October 20, 2008


krautland: Ok, you are right. Individual investors should be aware of the risks of investing. They should diversify their investments so that if slice of the market tanks, they at least have something. And they should avoid being over-leveraged so that they don't end up hurting too badly if things go wrong. All of these are responsible steps taken by responsible investors.

So wouldn't you agree that there is something deeply wrong when the manager of a bank or insurance company took bad risks, failed to diversify, and were over-leveraged when handling other people's money?

That is a critical difference here. When I mismanage my investment, I hurt myself. When AIG Wachovia, and Freddie mismanaged their investments, they did so with billions of dollars from thousands of people. And their managers are ultimately responsible for keeping their companies afloat.

It is, frankly, astounding and baffling to me that when a single form of investment underperformed to expectations that big institutions run by people with inside information were unable to absorb the losses, to such an extent that our economy is grinding to a halt. Something was wrong.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:54 PM on October 20, 2008


Part of the problem. Those mofos should not be looking so happy.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:43 PM on October 20, 2008


personal responsibility is exactly what FFF is asking for.
he's asking that someone suffer. someone somehow never refers to oneself.

So wouldn't you agree that there is something deeply wrong when the manager of a bank or insurance company took bad risks, failed to diversify, and were over-leveraged when handling other people's money?
yes. I pay my accountant to find these guys. I follow the news in hopes of hearing about problems early enough. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. kirk kerkorian sold his stake in ford today after he gave up on a failed bet they could be saved. he lost $689 million on that one.

When AIG Wachovia, and Freddie mismanaged their investments, they did so with billions of dollars from thousands of people. And their managers are ultimately responsible for keeping their companies afloat.

yes, they lose someone else's money. but let's take freddie - they stayed clear of the subprime category. you had to be at least Alt A with 20% down to get in on that one. that's pretty responsible in my book, yet they got hosed as well. aig? the investors knew they were investing in a company that took risks in order to get a 12% annual return and a nice dividend on their investments. some people point out they were vastly over-leveraged. perhaps that was one of the problems.
posted by krautland at 3:18 PM on October 21, 2008


And yet somehow, it still sounds to me like you think the people who orchestrated these (fraudulent, IMO) schemes shouldn't be held personally responsible for their failure.

You wouldn't happen to be involved in the financials industry, would you?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:01 PM on October 21, 2008


Oh man, krautland, you are that "Joe the plumber" guy, right?
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 11:46 PM on October 21, 2008


And Google has pulled it down. Damn.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 2:51 PM on October 22, 2008


personally responsible for their failure.
*shrugs* wiped out? on the street? lynch'em all? I explained what I want to see and what I'd find excessive. feel free to scroll up.

You wouldn't happen to be involved in the financials industry, would you?
funny, I thought it was well-documented what I do. (the answer is 'no.')

Oh man, krautland, you are that "Joe the plumber" guy, right?
physically or politically? physically I'm of course much more dashing. politically I'm a liberal. but since you made it personal, do you liken yourself to janet reno or gov palin?
posted by krautland at 6:21 PM on October 22, 2008


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