I expect the books to be out shortly and then a movie to follow about the Enron debacle. I can't wait to see which star will play the lead auditor for Andersen.
But those aren't the only places that I expect to see a little poetic license. I think you have already seen it, and will continue to see it in the press coverage and Congressional hearings. Let's also not also forget the radio and television talk shows, as well as the financial ones on cable.
The poetic license is not only being applied to the conduct of the Enron executives, but also to the investment bankers, lawyers, and of course the accountants affiliated with Enron.
I don't expect it to end there. I believe that for this story to really have shelf life, more companies that supposedly operate the same way that Enron is being portrayed have to be found. Also, expect allegedly smoking-gun memos and incriminating minutes of meetings of the advisors of those companies acknowledging but choosing to ignore the problems.
Those experienced need only take a little reality and then shape it so it plays as high drama, as with the current rage of reality-based television,
That is what the accounting profession, and especially Andersen, is up against. Andersen seems to have become an unwilling participant in a "Survivor"-type show that will be playing out for quite a while. Often through its CEO, via a public relations campaign, by full-page ads in the newspaper, and promises of an internal investigation of its auditor's actions, Andersen is spending a lot of time trying to sway public opinion. They have a tough job and have made some missteps.
My concern is that the future regulatory environment is being tainted. Changes on both the national and state levels will be in reaction to this reality-based fervor--and not to the reality that accountants and their business clients face. If that turns out to be the case, more innocent people will be hurt by the Enron debacle. Stay tuned.
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