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Author Topic: Corporate Fraud, the Continuing Saga...
MJ
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 441

posted 26 June 2002 12:26 PM      Profile for MJ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From the NY Times (requires registration

quote:
WorldCom Says It Hid Expenses, Inflating Cash Flow $3.8 Billion
By SIMON ROMERO and ALEX BERENSON

WorldCom, the nation's second-largest long-distance carrier, said last night that it had overstated its cash flow by more than $3.8 billion during the last five quarters in what appears to be one of the largest cases of false corporate bookkeeping yet.

Some analysts now see a bankruptcy filing as a strong possibility, which would follow the pattern of Enron, Global Crossing and other companies laid low by accounting scandals since last fall. In an effort to avoid that fate, WorldCom said last night that it would cut 17,000 employees, or one-fifth of its work force. Analysts had been expecting a job cut of that magnitude for several weeks.

Instead of the profit of $1.4 billion the company reported in 2001 and $130 million in this year's first quarter, WorldCom now says it lost money during those periods, although it did not say how much.

In disclosing the bookkeeping problem, WorldCom said it had fired its chief financial officer, Scott D. Sullivan, the executive widely credited with helping orchestrate the financial strategy during the mid-to-late 1990's that enabled WorldCom to rise from a second-tier telecommunications company to a world giant through a series of acquisitions that included the $30 billion purchase of MCI in 1998.

WorldCom's board said it had fired Mr. Sullivan after discovering a strategy in which operating costs like basic network maintenance had been booked as capital investments, an accounting gimmick that enabled WorldCom to hide expenses, inflate its cash flow and report profits instead of losses. Until last month, WorldCom's auditor had been Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that also audited the books of Enron and Global Crossing.


And from another article on the topic:

quote:
SAN FRANCISCO/PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - WorldCom Inc. said it had uncovered improper accounting for almost $4 billion in expenses, raising bankruptcy fears for the U.S. telecoms company and shocking investors reeling from accountancy scandals.

The No.2 U.S. long-distance telephone and data services said late on Tuesday it had fired its Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan after discovering the irregularities, which the Securities and Exchange Commission said were of a magnitude never before seen.

"The WorldCom disclosures confirm that accounting improprieties of unprecedented magnitude have been committed in the public markets," the SEC said in a brief statement.

The massive accounting problems could also derail WorldCom's talks with its lenders to secure $5 billion in financing, without which it may face a cash-crunch next year, or even bankruptcy, analysts said.

Robertson Stephens, which downgraded its rating on WorldCom to "market underperform" from "strong buy," said "a bankruptcy filing is highly likely within the next 12 months."



From: Around. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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Babbler # 2440

posted 26 June 2002 12:32 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Until last month, WorldCom's auditor had been Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that also audited the books of Enron and Global Crossing.

Now there's a surprise. Hands up everybody who thinks that finance people at every Andersen client out there will be working some longer hours for a while. Or quietly packing their bags and booking flight reservations to countries that don't have extradition treaties with the US.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 26 June 2002 02:33 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
WorldCom's board said it had fired Mr. Sullivan after discovering a strategy in which operating costs like basic network maintenance had been booked as capital investments, an accounting gimmick that enabled WorldCom to hide expenses, inflate its cash flow and report profits instead of losses. Until last month, WorldCom's auditor had been Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that also audited the books of Enron and Global Crossing.

The SEC slapped AOL for doing this, and forced AOL to restate their earnings. Using the new honest accounting, AOL hasn't turned a profit since 1996.

I wonder how many other companies will end up with the same "problem" of vanishing profits.

[ June 26, 2002: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 26 June 2002 02:46 PM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm amused by how these articles all call it overstatement or impropriety rather than fraud or lies. A lot of the much-vaunted American corporate profits of the late 1990s appear to have never existed. Oopsie!
From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 26 June 2002 03:13 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
http://www.counterpunch.org/mokhiber0625.html

quote:
Earlier this month, Weiss Ratings released a study that found that among the 50 brokerage firms covering companies that have gone bankrupt this year, 47 firms continued to recommend that investors buy or hold shares in the failing companies even as they were filing for Chapter 11 in the first four months of 2002.

From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Jake
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posted 26 June 2002 04:00 PM      Profile for Jake     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Some more creative managment.

quote:
His statement said the company will cut its work force by 17,000 people, starting on Friday,
to save about $900-million (U.S.) a year. WorldCom employed about 80,000 at last report.

"I want to assure our customers and employees that the company remains viable and committed to a long-term future," Mr. Sidgmore said. "Our services are in no way affected by this matter, and our dedication to meeting customer needs remains unwavering. I have made a commitment to driving fundamental change at WorldCom, and this matter will not deter the new management team from fulfilling our plans."


The company's services will in no way be affected! One wonders what 20+% of the workers that will be turfed out used to do there, if their departure will not change anything.

Perhaps the secret is to have the remainder just work 20% longer each week for the same wages. Or perhaps a way can be found to farm out some of the work to China.

Wow! Isn't free enterprise wonerful. "There are no problems, only solutions"

Jake


From: the recycling bin | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 26 June 2002 04:25 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
D'oh! Guess who bought 100 shares at about $7. Sigh...
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ReeferMadness
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posted 27 June 2002 02:49 AM      Profile for ReeferMadness     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
If you can stand one more link, this one has a summary of a number of other corporate fraud stories.

But it's going to be all right now. Dubya's on the job.


From: Way out there | Registered: Jun 2002  |  IP: Logged
meades
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Babbler # 625

posted 27 June 2002 03:05 AM      Profile for meades     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Moreover...

quote:
Last Wednesday in her first news conference since her name surfaced in
connection with the ImClone trading scandal, Ms. Stewart told reporters that
"my sale of ImClone stock was entirely proper and lawful." Moreover, she
said she had no inside information when the trade was made.

quote:
According to a Wall Street Journal report yesterday, information provided by
Douglas Faneuil, Mr. Bacanovic's assistant, appears to contradict Mr.
Bacanovic's and Ms. Stewart's version of events leading up to the sale by
Ms. Stewart of 3,928 ImClone shares on Dec. 27 at $58 apiece.

Apparently yesterday on The Early Show, when Martha Stewart made an appearance with one of her find salads, the host reapeatedly questioned Ms. Stewart about the ImClone scandal, until finally, a frustrated Martha said with that chuckle, and monotone yet comforting voice we all know her for, "I'd like to focus on my salad."

I'm sooooooo not making this up!!!


From: Sault Ste. Marie | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 27 June 2002 07:57 AM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
From Reefer's link above:

quote:
"What happened last night is that you're getting investors' worst fears materializing," Marc Lévesque, senior economist at Toronto Dominion Bank , told globeandmail.com on Wednesday.

"The morality of Corporate America really needs shaking up," Fred Ketchen, director of equity trading at Scotia McLeod , told globeandmail.com. "This is a scandal that grows smellier and smellier every day. It has a serious impact on market integrity and we're going to pay for it."


Does anyone else find statements from equity traders and senior economists at two of our majors a little, well, hollow? How long until these sorts of scandals start trickling north of the border?

Edited to add: Will I ever learn how to spell senior?

[ June 27, 2002: Message edited by: Sarcasmobri ]


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
hibachi
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posted 27 June 2002 12:01 PM      Profile for hibachi   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I suppose Martha will look good in one of those flourescent orange jump suits so popular in US detention centres. If she's lucky, they'll have her working in the kitchen.
From: Toronto, Ont. | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
MJ
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Babbler # 441

posted 27 June 2002 12:10 PM      Profile for MJ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This little story from the Globe and Mail references one of my personal favourite examples of dot-com era hype.

quote:
Investor suing Yorkton

By ANDREW WILLIS
From Thursday's Globe and Mail

Toronto — At the height of the tech boom, Ottawa investor Robert Toevs was told that his holding in Book4Golf.com Corp. was going to the moon.

Mr. Toevs bought into the Internet tee-time booking service at $3.65 a share in November, 1999, through his stockbroker at Yorkton Securities Inc.

A few months later, Yorkton chief executive officer Scott Paterson was telling anyone willing to listen that Book4Golf was going to $100 a share.

But like so many dot-com stocks, Book4Golf crashed. The stock peaked at $24 in the winter of 2000, then dropped steadily.

Mr. Toevs now owns shares that change hands for 2 cents each, and he's not too happy about that.

Wednesday, this ordinary investor stepped forward as the lead plaintiff in what he hopes will become a $520-million class-action lawsuit against Yorkton and Mr. Paterson.

The lawsuit, launched on behalf of anyone who has owned Book4Golf since Oct. 14, 1999, claims Yorkton and its former CEO had "conflicts of interest" when they promoted Book4Golf. The lawsuit claims Yorkton and Mr. Paterson sold investors the stock "in order to realize personal gains at the expense of innocent public investors."



From: Around. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
ronb
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posted 27 June 2002 01:25 PM      Profile for ronb     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Yorkton and Mr. Paterson sold investors the stock "in order to realize personal gains at the expense of innocent public investors."

What a shock!


From: gone | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
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posted 27 June 2002 01:28 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Gosh, yes! I bet that's never been done before!

I mean, the stock market has a whole other, noble purpose. Doesn't it ... Ah, someone remind me?


From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Briguy
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posted 27 June 2002 01:31 PM      Profile for Briguy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You mean besides being the centre of all that is good, noble, and (of course) enterprising?

Edited to add an interesting view from Edward Chancellor of the Guardian:

click!

quote:
The deep-rooted failure of the shareholder- value philosophy, however, is not captured by these high-profile failures alone. Rather, it lies in the notion that a company's share price is an accurate reflection of its true worth and that management should be paid in relation to their ability to boost the share price.

[ June 27, 2002: Message edited by: Sarcasmobri ]


From: No one is arguing that we should run the space program based on Physics 101. | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 27 June 2002 06:12 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
For a lighter look at the crisis in business confidence:

quote:
REMAINING U.S. CEOs MAKE A BREAK FOR IT
Band of Roving Chief Executives Spotted Miles from Mexican Border

El Paso, Texas (SatireWire.com) — Unwilling to wait for their eventual indictments, the 10,000 remaining CEOs of public U.S. companies made a break for it yesterday, heading for the Mexican border, plundering towns and villages along the way, and writing the entire rampage off as a marketing expense.


More at SatireWire

[ June 27, 2002: Message edited by: Slim ]


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
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posted 27 June 2002 06:20 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
For some reason I keep reading this thread title as "Corporate Freud".
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
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posted 27 June 2002 06:42 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
To me, it is amazing that the "business press" does not launch into a self-critique over this. In the last ten or fifteen years, it has become de riguer to have stock analysts and similar fraud artists given a few moments at the conclusion of news programmes to add to the misinformation available about the economy.

It is now clear that much of what they have said over the last number of years compares unfavorably with the rumblings of the Soviet Politburo about the inevitable coming of a Communist Society.

It's fine if they want to print circulars about this stuff, but why has it been on the news?


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
sheep
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posted 27 June 2002 06:44 PM      Profile for sheep     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In the long run, and maybe even in the short, the collapse of WorldCom and Adelphia will be a good thing for capitalism, and I doubt it will be the last of it's kind.

The dot com phenomenon was a very bad thing for North America, I think. People being handed millions of dollars for business plans written up on bar napkins. All this pressure to post higher and higher profits, with no end in sight, otherwise known as unbridled greed.

I wonder if there will come a day when we really regret sending all of our manufacturing skills and equipment to other countries, when the bottom truly falls out of the information economy.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
'lance
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posted 27 June 2002 06:45 PM      Profile for 'lance     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
It's fine if they want to print circulars about this stuff, but why has it been on the news?

Even CBC Radio tends to fall for their obvious malarkey, running weekly "business panels." (In fairness, they generally have financial journalists instead of stock analysts; but the feature stems from, and feeds into, the common view that it's all about the economy, stupid, and the doings of this company and that are just so gosh-darn all-fired important that other info has to give way).

I've often thought of writing them letters asking why they don't have a regular "labour panel." Not a dumb question... most newspapers and magazines used to have good labour reporting. Not any more.


From: that enchanted place on the top of the Forest | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 27 June 2002 06:47 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
sheep wrote:

quote:
I wonder if there will come a day when we really regret sending all of our manufacturing skills and equipment to other countries, when the bottom truly falls out of the information economy.


There are currently a lot of unemployed Americans who think the bottom already has fallen out of the information economy. The hottest areas for growth in that sector right now are India and China.

[ June 27, 2002: Message edited by: Slim ]


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
sheep
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posted 27 June 2002 06:52 PM      Profile for sheep     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
There are currently a lot of unemployed Americans who think the bottom already has fallen out of the information economy. The hottest areas for growth in that sector right now are India and China.

There's quite a few employed Americans who would think it hasn't yet. But I agree. India and China will own the next information age. Especially when American copyright restrictions go out the window.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
radio
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posted 27 June 2002 09:37 PM      Profile for radio     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I heard one financial expert today saying that part of the blame for these fiascoes lies with investors because of their unrealistically high expectations. It's the old 'rape victim dressed too provocatively' excuse. I know I feel like I've been screwed.
From: Gore Bay, Ontario | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
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posted 28 June 2002 01:52 AM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
We can only hope something positive comes of it all, such as Martha Stewart bringing decorum and good taste to a federal institution.

See: http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0626-02.htm


From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Apemantus
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posted 28 June 2002 10:35 AM      Profile for Apemantus        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As today's editorial in the New Statesman says:

quote:
Edward Chancellor says the succesful running of companies has little to do with executive compensation schemes; rather, it depends on "great managers motivated by the pride they take in their work". Well, gosh! Isn't that what they used to say in the stuffy old private sector?

(Oh, how the tears are rolling down my cheeks - money-oriented businesses make money such a high priority over everything else that they have to invent it...)


From: Brighton, UK | Registered: Nov 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 28 June 2002 11:20 AM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Another one bites the dust?

quote:
LONDON (Reuters) - Troubled U.S. office equipment group Xerox Corp, once the king of copiers, on Friday discovered a $2.0 billion revenue gap in its books just days after global markets were hit by the biggest accountancy scandal on record.

Xerox to Restate Earnings by $2 Billion

The article goes on to reference a WSJ report to the effect that the amount of improperly recorded revenues could actually be more than 6 billion.

Should we start a pool to see who will be next to step forward and confess their sins?

Edit and slightly off-topic:

I once watched a very smart finance guy tie himself up in knots trying to understanding a Xerox lease agreement on a million dollar piece of equipment. In the end he threw up his hands and said "Screw it! We're buying the damn thing!".

[ June 28, 2002: Message edited by: Slim ]


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
KevinMichaelMurphy
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posted 28 June 2002 11:37 AM      Profile for KevinMichaelMurphy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
All of this is starting to sound a hell of a lot like the S&L fiasco of the '80s.

Being a technical person I hate to say this, but I think technology has a hand to play in both the Enron and Worldcom disaster.

Of course the real villian here is human greed, but let me explain my theory.

With everyone having real time access to stock markets around the world, the slightest hint of bad news or profit losses sends everyone on a selling spree (those damn day traders that treat this like a video game are the worst IMHO). Because of this, accountants are under huge pressure to keep the bottom line black and keep stock holders happy. Of course the huge stock options that executives in said companies get puts on a bit more pressure.

As long as everyone was making tons of money, people looked the other way (including the SEC). Now that things are starting to fall apart, people are running for the hills.

The phony indignity I see in regulators and politicians pisses me off to no end. If they'd been doing their job in the first place, companies wouldn't have been tempted to try to cook the books.

Of course no one is thinking about investors who've lost their life savings and their retirement funds as well. I'm hoping that some of these suits do time, and I'm not talking about 6 months at a minimum security resort either. Five or ten years in a real prison would be a good place to start.


From: Saint John, NB Canada | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged
SamL
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posted 28 June 2002 11:46 AM      Profile for SamL     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What pisses me off the most about this whole thing is how Dubya is all indignant and promising a thorough JD investigation into WorldCom, and shut his yap during Enron. I know, I know, he and his staff were in effect paid off by Lay and Co. but it still peeves me. And also the fact that the public is too damned apathetic to understand or even to care!
From: Cambridge, MA | Registered: Feb 2002  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 28 June 2002 12:50 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
With everyone having real time access to stock markets around the world, the slightest hint of bad news or profit losses sends everyone on a selling spree (those damn day traders that treat this like a video game are the worst IMHO).

There's no doubt that this has contributed to the herd behaviour that characterizes the markets these days.

quote:
Of course the huge stock options that executives in said companies get puts on a bit more pressure.

With this type of compensation becoming more common, and not just for executives, it only exacerbates the pump and dump mentality that was behind the whole dotcom bubble. Making money the old fashioned way isn't quick enough anymore. Now we make money by moving money around and the real purpose of a business - creating or adding value - takes a back seat to the shell game.

Unfortunately some investors, including the day traders you mention, are guilty of this too. Others have just been caught in the cross-fire.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 28 June 2002 01:41 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don't call them investors. They're speculators. *pained emoticon*

I've stayed out of this thread because it's been only too obvious to me in the last few years that lazy accounting and the utter lack of perspective that most CEOs have were bound to cause some sort of havoc, and sure enough, it's happened.

On a more fundamental note, I find it rather ironic that shareholders are the ones being given the most press, because they take advantage of a unique characteristic of developed economies: You can reap part of the profit stream of a business without ever doing any work for it, simply by purchasing a portion of the ownership in that business from someone else.

Every time some article complains that the shareholders are getting it in the shorts, I ask, "What about the employees? These are the people that make the business GO in the first place, and they've been squeezed, nickel-and-dimed, and negotiated to death so their wages can be held stagnant in the first place so Joe CEO and all the shareholders on down can reap those fantastic returns!"

quote:
I once watched a very smart finance guy tie himself up in knots trying to understanding a Xerox lease agreement on a million dollar piece of equipment. In the end he threw up his hands and said "Screw it! We're buying the damn thing!".

Hmm. Even the service agreements on used copiers don't mention that they nickel-and-dime you by charging for wear and tear on the machine. You're better off going to a third-party repair center that can do work on the machines rather than the manufacturer's repair dept.


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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posted 28 June 2002 01:47 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Don't call them investors. They're speculators. *pained emoticon*

That's a valid distinction.

quote:
Every time some article complains that the shareholders are getting it in the shorts, I ask, "What about the employees? These are the people that make the business GO in the first place, and they've been squeezed, nickel-and-dimed, and negotiated to death so their wages can be held stagnant in the first place so Joe CEO and all the shareholders on down can reap those fantastic returns!"

I've seen it suggested elsewhere that justice might be served in the Worldcom case by arming the 17,000 laid-off employees with cricket bats and forcing the guilty parties to run the gauntlet. Sounds fair to me.

quote:
Hmm. Even the service agreements on used copiers don't mention that they nickel-and-dime you by charging for wear and tear on the machine. You're better off going to a third-party repair center that can do work on the machines rather than the manufacturer's repair dept.

We solved the service problem by giving Xerox space in our facility to use as a parts drop for the whole area in return for three hours of preventative maintenance once a week. That's right, we bartered with Xerox. As for buying vs. leasing, the company I worked for did very well on that deal. (The piece of equipment in question was a profit centre - it was a printing company.)

[ June 28, 2002: Message edited by: Slim ]


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
jeff house
rabble-rouser
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posted 28 June 2002 02:40 PM      Profile for jeff house     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
What pisses me off the most about this whole thing is how Dubya is all indignant and promising a thorough JD investigation into WorldCom, and shut his yap during Enron.

How true. And more than that:

quote:
Even while loudly denouncing WorldCom, George W. Bush is trying to appoint the man who drafted the infamous "Enron exemption" — a law custom-designed to protect the company from scrutiny — to a top position with a key regulatory agency

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/06/28/opinion/28KRUG.html


From: toronto | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
MJ
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posted 28 June 2002 03:02 PM      Profile for MJ     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
On the issue of stock market behaviour, I found this little gem at the beginning of a report on todays stcok market activity:

quote:
Stocks Up; Resilience Sparks Buying
Fri Jun 28, 1:30 PM ET

Stocks held gains in midday trading on Friday as investors took comfort in the market's ability to rebound after the WorldCom Inc. accounting scandal and put aside worries sparked by the latest blowup, from Xerox Corp.


i.e. stocks are up today because they went up yesterday. Woohoo, let's hear it for business fundamentals!


From: Around. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
radio
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posted 28 June 2002 09:08 PM      Profile for radio     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Every time some article complains that the shareholders are getting it in the shorts, I ask, "What about the employees? These are the people that make the business GO in the first place, and they've been squeezed, nickel-and-dimed, and negotiated to death so their wages can be held stagnant in the first place so Joe CEO and all the shareholders on down can reap those fantastic returns!

I've always held that outrageous executive compensation is nothing more than theft from employees, shareholders, and consumers. They all suffer from the diversion of money that could otherwise have been allocated to wage increases and share dividends, and to reducing product prices.

The latest round of revelations demands severe retribution. While I like the idea of having company executives run the gauntlet, I thnk a few incidents of mob justice would do wonders for smartening up these crooks. Picture a group of fired employees dragging their bosses out into the street and hanging them from the nearest lampost. Now there's a photo for the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Seriously, these thieves should be jailed and all of their wealth confiscated. Much of their ill-gotten gains have come from the pension funds of past and current employees (or, as in my case, my RRSPs). On second thought, lynch the bastards!

[ June 28, 2002: Message edited by: radio ]


From: Gore Bay, Ontario | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
SHH
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1527

posted 28 June 2002 11:30 PM      Profile for SHH     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Slim: I once watched a very smart finance guy tie himself up in knots trying to understanding a Xerox lease agreement on a million dollar piece of equipment. In the end he threw up his hands and said "Screw it! We're buying the damn thing!".
Been there. At the margins, accounting for these and many other transactions becomes surprisingly, theoretically complex.

quote:
Krugman: For example, WorldCom now says that 40 percent of its investment last year was bogus, that it was really operating expenses. How could the people who should have been alert to the possibility of corporate fraud — auditors, banks and government regulators — miss something that big?
Exactly. This, unlike Enron, was no “accounting gimmick”, this was fraud that any first year auditor would notice. Amazing.

quote:
Radio: I've always held that outrageous executive compensation is nothing more than theft from employees, shareholders, and consumers. They all suffer from the diversion of money that could otherwise have been allocated to wage increases and share dividends, and to reducing product prices.
Yes indeed. Options should be expensed. Corporate taxes – a smoke and mirrors affair that only breeds arcane avoidance maneuvers, employs specialists geeks, diminishes national affiliation, and spreads the cost in indiscernible ways – should be abolished in favor of a direct tax at point-of-realization.

quote:
Krugman: Bush is trying to appoint the man who drafted the infamous "Enron exemption" — a law custom-designed to protect the company from scrutiny — to a top position with a key regulatory agency
The so-called “Enron Exemption” was a general deregulation of commodities trading. The characterization; “custom designed to protect the company from scrutiny” is the kind hyperbole that brings discredit.

quote:
SamL: What pisses me off the most about this whole thing is how Dubya is all indignant and promising a thorough JD investigation into WorldCom, and shut his yap during Enron.
Well, okay, I guess; although there were disparaging words. “Increasing frustration” might also account for this. Most importantly: The WorldCom FRAUD is 600% larger than Enron; who, despite the obvious, committed the crime of intent within the rules as compared to World Com who just ignored them. A subtle distinction I admit. Frankly, pisses me off that I even to make that distinction. Or know about it.

quote:
jeff house: It is now clear that much of what they have said over the last number of years compares unfavorably with the rumblings of the Soviet Politburo about the inevitable coming of a Communist Society.
Good shot! I totally agree. In any other situation, we’d ignore pimps wouldn’t we?

quote:
skdadl: I mean, the stock market has a whole other, noble purpose. Doesn't it ... Ah, someone remind me?
To provide a market place where people can sell a piece of their company so as to raise cash for expansion or debt retirement. Kinda like a flea market; an effort to get some cash to keep moving on.

From: Ex-Silicon Valley to State Saguaro | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 29 June 2002 12:07 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
SHH, this article provides a rather illuminating perspective on just how insignificant new issues of shares are in relation to the total volume of the stock market.

In Canada alone, share buybacks plus mergers and acquisitions exceeded the total number of new share issues from 1990 to 1997. In effect, there was a net loss of shares available during that time.

The paper economy has nothing to do with the real economy.

[ June 29, 2002: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1292

posted 29 June 2002 12:44 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am thinking about this. And here is what I am thinking: Imagine I walked into a McDonald's and at the opportune time reached across the counter and grabbed whatever cash I could get. I wouldn't get much. But I would for certain spend a night in jail. I would be treated like dirt. Run through the justice system with all the dignity of a number and, in the end, there is a high probability I would go back to jail to think about what I did.

Now have a look at Xerox. They over reported their profits by billions. Investors buy shares based on reported incomes. Executives salaries are tied to share values and many executives receive shares as part of their compensation packages. The executives, and I do not know if this is the case with Xerox but I could make an educated guess, know when to unload thier shares. The typical shareholder does not. So CEO's, executives and directors benefit personally by overstating earnings and profits, driving up share prices, collecting bonuses and cashing out. Shareholders, which includes everyone who owns an RSP, mutual fund or part of a pension plan -- that would be ordinary people -- get screwed.

And what happens to those CEO's and executives? They often get golden parachutes to go away. More money. At worst, they just go away. They can't lose. They don't ever go to jail.

Xerox, however, is fined $10 million. Now perhaps a math genius could tell me what percentage of between $4 - 6 billion is $10 million. Oh, and who pays it? The corporation. So the shareholder is screwed yet again.

Great system.


From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
WingNut
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1292

posted 29 June 2002 12:52 AM      Profile for WingNut   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
And just as an aside, how many here support the Canadian Alliance policy to scrap the Canada Pension Plan and replace it with forced RSP's?
From: Out There | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 29 June 2002 01:01 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'd rather disembowel myself with a rusty shovel.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
clersal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 370

posted 29 June 2002 01:06 AM      Profile for clersal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Appropriate overkill Doc.
From: Canton Marchand, Québec | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Riffraff
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2034

posted 29 June 2002 01:36 AM      Profile for Riffraff     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
________________________________________________
WorldCom's board said it had fired Mr. Sullivan after discovering a strategy in which operating costs like basic network maintenance had been booked as capital investments, an accounting gimmick that enabled WorldCom to hide expenses, inflate its cash flow and report profits instead of losses. Until last month, WorldCom's auditor had been Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm that also audited the books of Enron and Global Crossing.
_______________________________________________

A famous American psychiatrist wrote that not all psycopaths are easily identifiable. Most psycopaths are very successful. In fact they do well in business and in politics.


From: Ontario | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged
skdadl
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 478

posted 29 June 2002 10:24 AM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I understand that this is going to hit many people who have been running their own RSPs hard. But can someone explain to me what happens to institutional/corporate pensions already in place: ie, are institutions that are already paying out pensions going to have to alter radically what they are paying or will pay? Do pension levels come up for grabs at the next contract negotiation? Etc.
From: gone | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Boinker
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 664

posted 29 June 2002 10:37 AM      Profile for Boinker   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"A famous American psychiatrist wrote that not all psycopaths are easily identifiable. Most psycopaths are very successful. In fact they do well in business and in politics."

Why Rifraf?


From: The Junction | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
Moderator
Babbler # 560

posted 29 June 2002 01:00 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
My mother occasionally gets a little freaked out that I haven't been saving for retirement yet - and in particular, that I haven't been buying RRSPs. I look at this kind of thing and think, there's no way in HELL I'm buying RRSPs. I will buy a house as soon as I'm able and live in it for the rest of my life, and hope that I can work until I drop dead.
From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
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Babbler # 2440

posted 29 June 2002 01:10 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
RRSP money doesn't have to be invested in the stock market - it can be placed in instruments where there is less risk.

A house is good investment, certainly.

What happens if you find yourself in a position where you can't work due to illness or injury?


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
Zatamon
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1394

posted 29 June 2002 01:13 PM      Profile for Zatamon     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michelle, I agree with your attitude whole heartedly. I am a lot older than you are and I don't have a penny saved for retirement. Instead, I shaped my lifestyle such a way that I need very little money to cover expenses. If I can't earn that little of money (if CPP is destroyed by the time I need it) then I won't want to live any more.
From: where hope for 'hope' is contemplated | Registered: Sep 2001  |  IP: Logged
Slick Willy
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 184

posted 29 June 2002 01:19 PM      Profile for Slick Willy     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
A house is good investment, certainly.
What happens if you find yourself in a position where you can't work due to illness or injury?

Well, then there is the possibility of litigation on the injury part. Illness is a bit different.
For my wife and I we bought insurrance that will help to cover disability and injury, so in that event, life goes on.

But I think if I had my druthers I would die from an OD or choke on my own puke before I rotted away from some illness. But that's just me, I don't recommend it to anyone.


From: Hog Heaven | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
SHH
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1527

posted 29 June 2002 04:02 PM      Profile for SHH     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
skdadl: Do pension levels come up for grabs at the next contract negotiation? Etc.
In the US there are two major kinds of pensions: Defined Benefits and Defined Contributions. The former remains static while the latter may change. Both are subject to change for future beneficiaries at points of renewal. Pensions have become extremely rare in the US giving way to self-funded 401K and IRAs.
quote:
Wingnut: And what happens to those CEO's and executives? They often get golden parachutes to go away. More money. At worst, they just go away. They can't lose. They don't ever go to jail.
Actually, they do. Although, I think we’d agree, not nearly often enough and not nearly long enough. Their sentences are often out of proportion to their crimes as you note. I suspect that’s about to change. I think this disparity is rooted in the fear factor (as opposed to the damage factor). People fear physical violence as associated with armed robbery, assault, or rape while the white-collar scamster invokes more anger than fear and is seen as something distant and vague.
quote:
Doc: The paper economy has nothing to do with the real economy.
I’d rephrase this to say the speculative economy – such as NASDAQ @ 5000 – has nothing to do with the real economy.
quote:
Doc: SHH, this article provides a rather illuminating perspective on just how insignificant new issues of shares are in relation to the total volume of the stock market.
Yes, now, but all that money – the aggregate market value – did come from stockholders. And young companies live and die by the IPO. The author neatly skips into a distinction between entrepreneurs/venture capitalists and stockholders while they are almost always the same, initially anyway.

Other misses:

quote:
Doc’s Article: What do shareholders contribute to justify the extraordinary allegiance they receive? They take risk, we're told. They put their money on the line, so corporations might grow and prosper. Let's test the truth of this with a little quiz:

Stockholders fund major public corporations -- True or False?

False. Or, actually, a tiny bit true -- but for the most part, massively false.


This is a non sequitur. Whether stockholders actually fund corporations or not, the risk is very real and y immense. In the entire article, this risk is only mentioned twice, and even then it’s dismissed as something false or removed from the corporation. This slanted treatment of course, is necessary to sustain the thesis.
quote:
Doc’s Article: The problem is not the free market. That notion -- buyers and sellers regulating prices without external guidance -- is relatively innocent. Indeed, brilliant. Nor is the problem capitalism. The capitalist system -- private ownership driven by self-interest -- is in many ways superbly effective. Certainly free-market capitalism is the most fruitful economic system the world has yet conceived. If we go rummaging through its entire basket of economic ideas -- supply and demand, private property, competition, profit, unconscious regulation, wealth creation, and so forth -- we'll find most concepts are sturdy and healthy, well worth keeping.

Whoa! Do you agree with this Doc?

quote:
Doc’s Article: Ergo: Stockholders "create wealth" without lifting a finger.
So do bond holders. And again, the risk goes unmentioned.

quote:
Doc’s Article: Included in intangibles is discounted future value (what the market will pay today for estimated future value), plus things like patents and reputation. But also included is a company's knowledge base, its living presence. Or to call it by a simpler name: employees.
As someone who has bought and sold several businesses and brokered the sale of many others, I have found that reputation, patents/ideas, and a standing pool of past customers constitutes the vast majority of Goodwill; not the employees as the author suggests. There are exceptions of course, but they’re trivial in numbers. Cisco didn’t buy employees; it bought their ideas, the creations of their labor, and the promise of turning that into cash. Employees are “bought” by paying them a salary; and to the highest bidder they go. (And if they’re valuable enough, they are encouraged, often generously, to become owners).
quote:
Doc’s Article: How can companies own employees' thoughts? Isn't it unconstitutional to own human beings?
This entire line of reasoning is bogus. Your association with a corporation is voluntary. You are perfectly welcome to take your “thoughts” and do what you will with them. If however, you stand on the shoulders of proprietary knowledge, or use the tools and time of those who pay you to think, you shouldn’t expect both a salary and a right to own. Go your own way if that’s what you want. It’s done every day.

Taking the author’s suggestion to its logical end, I should be paying rent, for the house I own, to the carpenters who built it.

quote:
Either you own property, or you become property: there is nothing else in a property-based world.
Predictably, the author must trot out the stale and false dichotomy of employee v owner as if they’re exclusive. The employee is just as free to become an owner as anyone else. Indeed, most large corporations subsidize such with financial incentives. This fact stands directly at odds with the author’s assertion that what is good for the corporation is bad for the employee.

All these quibbles aside, I would agree that current accounting rules fail to acknowledge a number of intangible costs that probably should be reflected in the corporate P&L.


From: Ex-Silicon Valley to State Saguaro | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 29 June 2002 06:00 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Yes, now, but all that money – the aggregate market value – did come from stockholders.

And therein lies the error in thinking which drives popular misconceptions of the stock market as a primary vehicle for generating wealth instead of being a rather distant second to direct borrowing via bonds (and yes, IMHO bondholders have far more of a direct legitimate claim on future profits than shareholders because the secondary bond market is smaller in magnitude, from what I know) or self-financing from retained earnings.

Not one dollar paid for a share other than one purchased at an IPO goes directly to a corporation for it to fund new ventures with. It is thus that at best 5% of the total volume traded in a given year is accountable as a direct purchase of new shares.

SHH, surely you know that purchases of stocks and bonds are not calculated in GDP. In effect, this is a recognition by even the most free-market of economists that share purchases or transactions involving such do not contribute to national output.

They play a secondary role, and a rather poor one, if the ratio of new shares to total volume traded is used as a measure of the efficiency of wealth generation and investment via the stock market.

I also noticed you ignored the fact that there was a net loss of new share issues during the 1990s in Canada. This during the most active years the Canadian asset markets have ever SEEN!

Conclusion: Corporations know that the price-to-earnings ratio is a convenient fiction designed to appease the gods of speculation so they can get on with doing what their real earnings come from - which is purchases of their goods and services in the real economy.

[ June 29, 2002: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
SHH
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1527

posted 29 June 2002 06:52 PM      Profile for SHH     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
And therein lies the error in thinking which drives popular misconceptions of the stock market as a primary vehicle for generating wealth instead of being a rather distant second to direct borrowing via bonds (and yes, IMHO bondholders have far more of a direct legitimate claim on future profits than shareholders because the secondary bond market is smaller in magnitude, from what I know) or self-financing from retained earnings.
Ah yes, the ever prevailing riddle of what is equity and what is debt. When we figure this out we’ll be Noble Prize candidates for sure.
quote:
They play a secondary role, and a rather poor one, if the ratio of new shares to total volume traded is used as a measure of the efficiency of wealth generation and investment via the stock market.
“New shares” yes; but overall appreciation has been rather good for a very long time. I don’t think your ratio is that meaningful.
quote:
I also noticed you ignored the fact that there was a net loss of new share issues during the 1990s in Canada. This during the most active years the Canadian asset markets have ever SEEN!
Buy-Backs have replaced dividends. No tax, upside cash flow potential; win, win. This is a new technique that’s distorting the stats. (Why they didn’t think of this before is beyond me. Expectations from stockholders I guess). Tidbit: At one time a couple of years ago, Intel, the chipmaker, held and transacted more equities than some of the largest Wall Street brokerage firms.
quote:
Conclusion: Corporations know that the price-to-earnings ratio is a convenient fiction designed to appease the gods of speculation so they can get on with doing what their real earnings come from - which is purchases of their goods and services in the real economy.
Agreed. Except of course when the CEO goes to sell his options.

I tried to disagree as much as possible, but I really couldn’t. Somebody is slipping here.


From: Ex-Silicon Valley to State Saguaro | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged
Doug
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 44

posted 04 July 2002 02:15 PM      Profile for Doug   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Here's a new way to think about it. It's not fraud, it's ART.

http://www.satirewire.com/news/june02/worldcom.shtml


From: Toronto, Canada | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
abnormal
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 1245

posted 04 July 2002 07:53 PM      Profile for abnormal   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Doug,

Great link. However, elsewhere on the same site I found

this

While it's hilarious I'm not sure where to draw the line. Is it okay because we're talking about a few dollars with individuals but not okay since we're talking about billions with corporations?


From: far, far away | Registered: Aug 2001  |  IP: Logged
pogge
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2440

posted 10 July 2002 01:34 PM      Profile for pogge   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
U.S. Attorney Investigates Qwest

quote:
D E N V E R, July 10 — Qwest Communications International Inc., whose accounting practices have been under investigation by federal regulators, said Wednesday that federal prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation of the formal Baby Bell company. Its slim share price sank about 30 percent in morning trading.

OK somebody's going to have to issue a program so we can keep track of all these companies in trouble.


From: Why is this a required field? | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 10 July 2002 01:34 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
11 X 17 paper anyone?

Addendum: Check this cartoon out.

[ July 10, 2002: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 07 November 2003 04:13 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A note: On reading The Screwing of the Average Man, printed in 1975, I saw something very interesting.

It seems that Arthur Andersen got caught with its mitts in the cookie jar in 1972 or 1973, when the Four Seasons retirement home chain got nailed for all sorts of financial fraud charges, several employees of Arthur Andersen were also charged at the time with aiding in the defrauding of shareholders.

[ 07 November 2003: Message edited by: DrConway ]


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 490

posted 07 January 2004 08:04 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The myth of the populist stock market

quote:
NEW YORK – Wall Street analysts are predicting another great year for the stock market in 2004, and Americans are again pouring their savings into stocks. Tens of billions of dollars have flowed back into equities since last summer. As the Dow and Nasdaq soar, more money is likely to follow. There are also signs of a revival of the '90s myth of the populist stock market -a myth in which Wall Street gives everyone on Main Street a shot at a better life.

Can Americans possibly fall once more for this nonsense? Maybe. The scandals of recent years, most lately in the mutual-fund industry, have done little to debunk the notion that Wall Street is geared toward ordinary investors and that stocks offer a universal path to wealth creation. At the height of the boom, however, the bottom three-quarters of American households owned less than 15 percent of all stock. Barely a third of households hold more than $5,000 in stock. Most Americans have more debt on their credit cards than money in their mutual funds.



From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
banquo
rabble-rouser
Babbler # 2124

posted 07 January 2004 10:13 PM      Profile for banquo     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wanna buy some tulip bulbs?
From: north vancouver, bc | Registered: Jan 2002  |  IP: Logged

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