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Re: <nettime> from the dotcom observatory (january-june 2003)
Fred Heutte on Wed, 18 Jun 2003 11:31:54 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> from the dotcom observatory (january-june 2003)


Responding to Geert Lovink's query about Enron books:

I highly recommend "Pipe Dreams" by Robert Bryce, as the
best of the Enron books.  Believe me, I have read most of them
(except the trashy as-told-to ones).  I am a ratepayer of Portland
General Electric (the Oregon electric utility still owned by Enron)
and my office is about five blocks from where all the Enron
Broadband pseudo-plans were hatched and where Enron's
energy traders did loop-de-loops through the west coast power
markets.  The (in)famous Tim Belden used to ride his bike to work 
there (very Amsterdam, we Portlanders, although we don't
have bike lanes on the sidewalks, yet, and therefore no fisticuffs
involving unaware pedestrians who violate a millimeter of the
wheel zone).  

Anyway, Bryce is a real reporter in Houston who bothered to
learn enough about corporate balance sheets to tell the story
properly, from both a financial and human perspective.

Frank Partnoy's book "Infectious Greed" is very good on
derivatives markets (his specialty) but disappointing on Enron
after his electrifying testimony in the US Senate in February 2002.
He just can't back away from the idea that Enron was not a house 
of cards, claiming that their market operations made money.  

Bryce definitively demonstrates that this is not true (and that 
is backed up by numerous congressional studies and filings in the
bankruptcy case).  Much of Enron's profits were either from the
old-fashioned utility part of their business (including half a 
BILLION dollars of our PGE rates that were intended for federal
taxes that they simply snatched into the corporate books and kept,
never paying the US Treasury), or were fiction from their hundreds
of special purpose entities including the infamous Broadband
scam called Braveheart, which shows how even Larry Ellison and
Blockbuster can be snookered by true con artists.

The other Enron books range from OK to purely bad.  I started
reading the one by Sherron Watkins and was quickly bored.  She
was a colorless functionary in mid-high management and is still
trying to protect the bosses, really.  

There are many others, mostly less useful; stick with Bryce, he is
a pro and tells the story properly.

fred

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