These are surely not the last words on Enron, but I wanted to share a few thoughts on the conclusion of Conglomerate Forum: Enron.
First, many of the commentators have discussed the deterrent effect of criminal law on corporate executives. As Nancy Rapoport's post from downtown Houston illustrates, however, this case was not about deterrence for most people. This was about punishment. And, in some cases, a felt need for revenge.
Second, several commenters, including most recently John Kroger, have expressed shock that some of the participants have reservations about the guilty verdicts. Yes, Enron was a colossal fraud. But the pre-trial narratives were mixed about Lay's and Skilling's roles in that fraud. Even though I followed the trial closely, and I thought the prosecutors did an excellent job, I find it hard to shake the notion that the real villain in Enron was Andy Fastow.
Third, this brings us to Lay's and Skilling's defense. Why did they believe that they could convince a jury that nothing untoward was happening at Enron? Why didn't they go with the pre-trial narratives that portrayed Lay as clueless and Skilling as distracted and emotionally troubled? Would that have made a difference?
Finally, I want to thank all of the participants and commenters in the Forum. I have very much enjoyed reading the posts and comments. I feel like I have learned a lot.
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