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Enron

This tag is associated with 12 posts

SOX causes Companies to go Dark


Since I am an accounting major, I have gained a major interest in government policies that may affect my future. I also have enjoyed learning about many accounting frauds that have taken place (especially since some companies went to great lengths to cover up what they were doing, check out ZZZZ Best for example). One of the major policies that has been passed and we have discussed in class is the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002. The article that we read for class analyzed the effects of the act shortly after it was implemented. As a result, I want to see if any results and analyses have changed.

 SOX was implemented after the Enron and WorldCom scandals. It was the government’s quick response and solution to the mistrust the public was gaining of big corporations.  SOX implemented many regulations on auditors and companies in order to make sure no more economic disasters would occur in the future (the financial crisis of 2008?). For my white paper, I want to explore the actual effects of SOX on society, companies, and auditing firms. Continue reading

A Family That Slays Together Stays Together


This week for the TV blog post prompt, I chose one of my favorite shows: Criminal Minds. It airs on CBS every Wednesday night at 9, and is currently in season 7. The show is made up of an elite group known as a subsection of the FBI: Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Sometimes referred to as the unit, the members include Rossi, Morgan, Garcia (computer whiz), Dr. Reid, JJ (communications), Prentiss and Hotch (head of team). Their base is located in Quantico, Virginia, but the unit is constantly called in by police departments and other agencies around the country to assist in crimes. These crimes the unit is called in to help solve typically have many layers and are extremely or disturbing cases. When the BAU is handed a new case, much of their job revolves around profiling and victimology. By piecing together the basic characteristics of the assailant(s) and analyzing them, the team can work in an effort to anticipate the next moves, and hopefully catch the unsub (unidentified subject) before it’s too late.

This past weeks’ episode is titled “A Family Affair.”  The Unit travels to Atlanta to investigate a string of murders. The victims have been prostitutes in the area who are stabbed to death in the same fashion. The Unit is called in because the frequency of these attacks continues to mount. The episode tells the story of dysfunctional family, the Collins. The Mother has been using pills, the Dad an alcoholic. They have one son, Jeffrey. Some years ago, there was a car accident. The Dad was drunk behind the wheel, the Mother in the front seat and Jeffrey in the back. Jeffrey is wheelchair-bound due to the accident, but blames his mother for what happened to him. Preview: criminal_minds_preview_a_family_affair_season_7_episode_16 Continue reading

Feeney Finds Out


The TV episode I chose to examine from a business, government, and society perspective is from the show Boy Meets World.  I am sure many of you are familiar with the sitcom comedy-drama, as it aired for seven seasons on ABC from 1993 through 2000, but for those of you who aren’t, I will sum it up.  Basically, the show chronicles the experiences and everyday life lessons in the world of Cory Matthews, your typical teenage boy from Philadelphia as he grows up from a young boy, through middle school, high school, college, and later married life.

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A Jet Stream of Bullshit


If you’ve never seen the show Curb Your Enthusiasm before, you are missing out. This show stars Larry David, creator of Seinfeld, who plays himself in the most ridiculous situations. Larry always seems to find himself in some sort of predicament and attempts to talk his way out of it. I chose what I think is one of the funniest episodes out of all of the nine seasons, “The Weatherman” to talk about for the blog; Some issues that pop up are Larry’s plaque, the idea of rolling up a sleeve and ruining the elasticity of a shirt, and peeing sitting down and falling in the toilet (this is why he walks with a cane in the video clip). Of all the episodes, one of the most ridiculous theories he comes up with is that the weatherman predicts rain to get everyone off the golf course, in order to clear it for himself. You can watch a short clip of the episode here:

The Weatherman

The issue at hand is that Larry and his friend Jeff planned on going golfing, but Jeff cancels because of the weatherman’s report about thunderstorms. When Larry wakes up he sees that it is actually a beautiful day outside, and concludes that the weatherman predicted rain on purpose. Larry goes to the golf course and finds the weatherman playing golf, where Larry claims, “There is a jet stream of bullshit coming out of your mouth!”

While I realize that this is a very particular scenario in a comedic TV show, I think the general issue can be related to our class. This is a question of whether the weatherman’s report was honest, or if he deceived the public by giving a false report in order to gain something for himself. Is it ethical either way? I believe this raises the issue the rarity of honest business practices today.

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Conflict of Interest(s) at Seattle Grace Hospital


Grey’s Anatomy has been one of my favorite shows since its debut in 2005.  Okay, I’ll admit, part of me watches the show only to stare at McDreamy’s hair or McSteamy’s washboard abs, but the other part of me thoroughly enjoys the ethical dilemmas that the cast faces each episode. For those of you who are not familiar with the show, I’ll catch you up with some brief background:

Grey’s Anatomy (no, not Gray’s Anatomy, the book) is a medical drama television show created by Shonda Rhimes, who also created the spinoff called Private Practice. Grey’s Anatomy takes place in Seattle, Washington and follows the lives of several interns, residents, and patients as they attempt to balance their medical careers with their personal lives — something that is not always easy. Inappropriate relationships, breaches in patient confidentiality, and intense conflicts of interest are not uncommon at Seattle Grace Hospital.  The doctors continually face moral dilemmas and are at constant war with each other about what the “right” thing to do is.

One of the main characters, Meredith Grey, is known for making reckless decisions.  Although these decisions are usually viewed as the unethical, it’s sometimes hard to completely disagree with her actions.  For example, in season seven, Meredith tampers with Dr. Shepherd’s Alzheimer’s trial by switching the paperwork so that the Chief’s wife Adele Webber will receive the Alzheimer drug that Dr. Shepherd is administering to several patients. Adele’s condition seemed to be deteriorating quickly, and since the Chief has acted as a father figure throughout the years, Meredith figured she would help him out.  After all, Meredith’s mother passed away from Alzheimer’s, so she experienced first hand how devastating the disease can be.  Did Meredith do the wrong thing?

Of course Meredith didn’t do the “right” thing.  But on the other hand, part of me was rooting for her as I sat and watched the episode, hoping she would go through with it despite how risky it was. Nevertheless, looking back on her action today, I can say with complete confidence that she did the wrong thing.  The whole point of clinical trials are that they are designed and conducted with great care to ensure valid results that are free of bias. Proper randomization of patients and making sure they don’t know if they are administered the trial drug or the placebo are crucial to preventing bias.  Although Meredith was trying to help a friend, if we all tried to help a friend in this kind of matter, chaos would ensue.

I’m not sure that this story directly relates to any of the material we’ve read for class, but it is a good reminder that acting ethically and doing the right thing is imperative.  I suppose it kind of reminds me of the Enron case where the company started to cut corners and not follow the rules, ultimately leading to Enron’s collapse.  Hypothetically of course, if Seattle Grace Hospital always cut corners, it would most likely have some sort of collapse itself.

Long story short: as much as you sometimes want to help out a friend, its costs might not outweigh its benefits.  You might actually be hurting more people than helping.  If we expect others to act ethically, we must do the same.

What are YOU the first to do?


In browsing through the “people to watch” I came across someone I find inspiring. This someone is 25 year old Tammy Tibbetts who was featured in Meet The Change Generation. She founded She’s The First in 2009, bringing together ideas and experimenting with creative ways to raise money. This money is used to fund girls in the developing worlds be the first in their family to graduate.

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Psycho-Ethics


I am supremely interested in the manner psychology affects the way that we construe situations and events. In this realm, my primary area of interest is social psychology, a part of psychology that causes more problems in the business-world than solutions. Social psychology focuses on the psychological impacts that a group has on one individual. Within this domain, there are many phenomena that contribute to the material that we cover, but I will focus on a couple core theories that directly relate to our cases thus far. These phenomena are obedience, groupthink, and deindividuation.

A psychological concept that is relevant to Enron’s demise is obedience. Obedience is represented by one’s willingness to disobey his or her personal values when in the presence of an authority figure asking him or her to do so. Such a phenomenon occurs even when there will be no repercussion to the individual if he or she does not comply with the authority’s demands. Stanley Milgram portrayed this concept in action by performing a study in which a subject was asked to shock a confederate of the experiment whenever this confederate answered a question incorrectly. The machine that the subjects used to shock the confederate counted up in 15 volt increments to 450 volts, past where the label above the voltages indicate a “Danger: Severe Shock” sign. As the confederate continuously got answers wrong, the subject was told to punish him incrementally by doling out higher, more dangerous shocks. Despite the labels above the voltage, cries from the confederate, and the subject’s own inhibitions, twenty-six out of forty subjects continued with the experiment until the highest shock was given to the confederate. Such an example shows the extent to which an authority figure controls underlings, regardless of their respective values and beliefs. This experiment is shown below: Continue reading

Like to travel? Wanderfly.


After skimming through many successful young entrepreneurs, Christy Liu caught my eye. According to Fast Company, Liu is one of eleven that is a part of the change generation. Liu is a cofounder of the travel site Wanderfly (check it out!). Traveling is something that I wished I had the time and money to do more often. After checking out the site, I was immediately interested in knowing more since the site offered me ways to budget the future traveling that I want to do.

Wanderfly is designed to plan travel for people that are on a budget. The site is very simple and organized, unlike many of its competitors, and allows a user to find a trip that meets many of their requirements. The user of the site will fill in where they want to leave from, where they want to go, what interests them (landmarks, nightlife, luxury, adventure, entertainment, family, watersports, eco, romance, shopping, outdoors, islands, beach, singles, history, food, art, and extreme), their budget per person, when they want to travel, and for how many days. After filling in their information, the traveler will be presented with multiple trip options. Each option includes a description of the place, pictures, things to do there, and hotels and flights that can be booked immediately. Continue reading

Extra Resources on Enron, AIG


Planet Money Podcast where CDS are “invented” by JP Morgan, complete with fru-fru cocktails.  Newsweek article on same topic.

Fool’s Gold book.

History Timeline of Credit Defaults

More Enron Resources (on Pearltrees, an online sharing tool).

Even More (Kept on Diigo, a tool I used more and has more stuff, both good and random).

Enron, “Asshole,” and Research Process


“You appreciate it?” was Richard Grubman’s response to Jeff Skilling dodging his persistent questions about the financial health of Enron on April 17, 2001.

Next, Skilling called him an “asshole” on a conference call with investment managers and analysts. I had heard about this infamous and perhaps symptomatic of the problems with Enron moment for years.  I decided to see if I could actually hear it.

  1. First, I’ll say something about that the conversation.
  2. Then, I’ll discuss research process. Continue reading

Enron — one of the greatest frauds in American history


The Enron fraud scandal is undoubtedly unparalleled to any case of its kind.  After a 56 day trial, former CEO and president Jeffrey K. Skilling and former chairman Kenneth L. Lay were found guilty of hiding more than a billion dollars of debt, manipulating energy markets, bribing foreign governments and wiping out their shareholder equity.  Now, a textbook example of how not to conduct business, the case of Enron stands at the center of business ethics.

Google “biggest business ethics scandal” and what comes up? Enron, of course.  The Enron scandal severely damaged the reputation of corporate America.  The downfall began when Enron failed to accurately report their financial statements.  Instead of admitting the company wasn’t performing as well as in previous quarters, executives jumped through several loopholes to modify the company’s balance sheet to portray a favorable depiction of its performance.  Moreover, the company’s accounting practices became sketchier when they chose not to release their financial statements.  What did they have to hide?  Well, apparently a lot.

By the late 1990s, Enron appeared to be performing quite well — or so people thought. Its stock was trading for about $80-$90 per share.  Then, strangely, CEO Skilling quit, citing that he wanted to spend more time with his family and that it had nothing to do with the fact that Enron was about to collapse.  Later in trial, Skilling argued “on the day I left, I absolutely and unequivocally thought the company was in good shape.” Sure he did…

Needless to say, the company fell apart.  Enron declared bankruptcy and shareholders lost around $70 billion dollars — all because of a deliberate ignorance to fraud and ethics.  Now because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), there is more protection for the investors by improving the accuracy and reliability of corporate disclosures.  Hopefully with more responsibility placed on the top management team, an Enron-like scandal will never occur again.  Moral of the story: do the right thing!

Blog Post 2 Instructions


  1. Find something “real” from Enron.  By real, I mean actual documents, voices, or material of the real people and events of the Enron case.  Avoid journalism in the from of articles.  This may be court documents, documentaries, oral histories, blogs form insiders FROM THAT time, Sherry Watkins memo and so on.  Hint: I know some business schools wrote cases praising Enron… that would be Ok also.  Discuss what you found and what it adds to our knowledge of Enron.  Hint: Use the footnotes in the Enron case for some ideas.
  2. Discuss role of blogging in writing and education.  What are pros and cons?  What have others said about this?
  3. Read and respond to the Stanford Encyclopedia article on business ethics.  Link to article.
  4. Provide more background on any of the big thinkers we have read about- C. Wright Mills,  Aristotle, John Stuart Mills and utilitarianism, or Kant.  Use hyperlinks or otherwise include sources you find.  Funny, interesting, or zany information, as long as it is accurate are ok.

Also,

You can check off each of these tasks…

Blog Skills Checklist for Session 3

  • You have changed your display name to something that makes sense.
  • You have added a real image for your avatar.
  • You know how to use categories and tags when crafting a post.
  • You know how to use the “read more” insert into a post so your post does not chew up the whole front page.
  • You know how to find the wordpress.com support.
  • You know how to include hyperlinks in your posts.
  • You know how to include multimedia in your posts.

BLOG INSTRUCTIONS

Blog 5 before session 6 What (interest) or Who (person) Inspires You? For this week’s prompt, the Blog Council wants you to examine how this class relates to your own interests. So, please write about how this class relates to some of your own intellectual or other learning interests. We are NOT interested in how it relates to a specific career goal. Plan B: same idea, but based on a person. See whole post for details.

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