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Corporate Aftershock

The Public Policy Lessons from the Collapse of Enron and Other Major Corporations

By Christopher Culp and William A. Niskanen
About the Book

In the wake of Enron’s implosion and other major corporate meltdowns, there have been hasty calls for strict laws to regulate the markets and products in which these companies were involved. But without proper analysis of the situation, these responses may unknowingly cause greater damage to the economy and investors than the original events. To avoid rushing into politically charged action and ensure that appropriate measures are implemented, we must first take the time to consider what really went wrong, then carefully decide how to prevent a repeat of such corporate disasters.

In an effort to curb the unnecessary “man‐​made aftershocks” that continue to ripple throughout the business world today, Corporate Aftershock has been writen as a reasoned, informed response to the numerous proposals to restrict derivatives, stifle structured financing activities, and amend shareholder protection principles and practices following the failure of Enron and other corporations. Editors Christopher Culp and William Niskanen have assembled an expert cast of contributors, each of whom are leaders in their respective fields–from credit risk management to energy to derivatives markets–to provide an unbiased public policy analysis of the failure of Enron and other major corporations.

Comprised of five distinct sections, Corporate Aftershock offers an in‐​depth examination and straightforward explanation of issues that focus on the policy lessons specific to the markets Enron traded in, as well as the specialized financial instruments it used in its endeavors.

Was Enron an innovator, a sham, or a bit of both? What can we learn from Enron’s failure that might impact the future operation and regulation of energy and derivatives markets? What role did accounting and disclosure policies play in Enron’s abuse of otherwise legitimate structured finance activities?

Without rushing to judgment, Corporate Aftershock answers these and many other questions. Dealing with corporate disasters through hasty reactions rarely solves the true problems. With Corporate Aftershock as your guide, you’ll learn what sensible solutions can be made in the wake of fallout from corporate disasters.

Press Release: Corporate Aftershock

About the Editors

William A. Niskanen has served as chairman of the Cato Institute since 1985, having previously been acting chairman of President Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers. He is one of the most highly regarded microeconomists in the nation.

Christopher L. Culp is an Adjunct Professor of Finance at the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business, a Principal at CP Risk Management LLC and Chicago Partners LLC, and a Senior Fellow in Financial Regulation at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

What Others Have Said

“In the near future, someone will build a better Enron–a legitimate company with the means and integrity to revolutionize markets. That person will want to use Corporate Aftershock as his business manual and had better hope that government regulators are reading it as well.”
—Ross M. Miller, Author, Paving Wall Street, coauthor, What Went Wrong at Enron

“During periods of crisis, it’s important for us to have an unemotional and objective analysis that can help us better understand the consequences of policy alternatives before the political process overwhelms sensible choices. Fraud and deceit are not common characteristics of our highly successful market economy. This volume recognizes this and presents a well‐​thought‐​out alternative that needs to be read and understood by all voters.”
—Joel Stern, Managing Partner, Stern Stewart & Co.

“The greatest tragedy of the Enron debacle is not likely to be the consequences of its bankruptcy, but from the erroneous institutional reforms that will take hold if its causes are not well understood. This thorough and thoughtful set of essays touches on all aspects of Enron, from accounting practices, to disclosure requirements, to trading strategies, to corporate governance, rate regulation, and much more. It is essential reading for those who want to walk the fine line between complacency in the face of failure and overreaction through excessive regulation.”
—Richard A. Epstein, Professor of Law, University of Chicago, Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution