For me, the Enron scandal merely confirms what I've suspected for years: Some corporations will do almost anything to make a buck, including lie and cheat and steal. And there are very few legal constraints on their ability to do so. In fact, it looks as though Enron may have exploited the same perfectly legal, business-friendly accounting loopholes that hundreds of other companies regularly employ.
For the first three quarters of 2001, the one hundred companies that make up the NASDAQ 100 reported $82.3 billion in combined losses to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). For the same period, these companies reported $19.1 billion in combined profits to shareholders via headline, "pro forma" earnings reports -- a difference of $101.4 billion or over $1 billion per company.