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January 17, 2002

Enron on eBay
Posted by Teresa at 12:00 AM *

As Cory Doctorow put it in Boing Boing: “Enron employees, former and current, are making extra cash by selling off instantaneously ironic items from their erstwhile employer.”

You may want to look quickly; some interesting auctions are ending today — the Enron-branded Marquis Waterford Rollerball Pen, for instance; ditto Tiffany & Co. china trinket box, ditto Tiffany sterling silver key ring. Not to mention the Enron Victorinox Swiss Army Knife. And the annual Enron Christmas ornaments, 1997-2001. And the Enron (baseball) Field Christmas ornament. And the Enron lead crystal executive award. And the Enron crystal prism paperweight. And the Enron “Visions & Values” paperweight. And the Enron “Visions and Values” puzzles. And the Enron golf balls. And the Enron yo-yo.

Enron appears to have had corporate-branded pelf coming out its ears. There’s a lot of sports-themed stuff; I count at least five different kinds of Enron-branded golf balls on offer, and I lost track of all the tchotchkes featuring Enron Field. The non-executive indoor-environment items are heavy on the Enron “Visions & Values” statement, the text of which they’ve injudiciously left up on many of their web pages. (Their Corporate Culture page, for instance, which says “The corporate values exposed by Enron include respect,integrity,communication,and excellence.”)

(The V&V kipple is exactly the sort of corporate workplace morale-boosting tripe that’s brilliantly parodied by Despair, Inc.: source of beautifully designed and photographed motivational posters and calendars that, on closer inspection, turn out to feature slogans like “Sometimes the best solution to morale problems is just to fire all of the unhappy people,” or “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘teamwork’, but there is in ‘bite me’.”)

And which item is the bidding highest for? The one titled Enron Smoking Gun: Risk Management Manual, Item #1500114600. Here’s part of the description:

This is the original manual given out during one of Enron’s internal advanced risk management classes. It gives detailed descriptions as to how earnings, creditworthiness, and the timing of reportings can affect how a company is perceived in the financial world.
from the manual:

Attain Favorable Accounting Treatment
By using certain structures, companies can re-categorize expenses in such a manner as to improve the perceived financial performance.

Also included are passages and case studies to teach a person how to do the following:

-manage the timing of reported earnings
-enhance creditworthiness
-improve ability to attract capital
-stabilize earnings through complex risk structures so as to make lenders more likely to extend credit, and do so for longer terms
-use risk structures to reduce earnings volatility perception in order that lower multiples are not required by equity investors

from the manual:

Enhance Operating Margins
Risk management structures do more than just stabilize margins—they enable companies to shift the realization of income and expense from period to period. Thus, companies can boost margins in critical (nearer term) periods.

There is much more contained in this manual, including case studies illustrating all of the above, booking revenue under GAAP rules, qualifications for adjusted EBITDA, and generating false revenue in the current period based on future bookings.

There are 223 pages, including training and review material. It is in a 3-ring binder and imprinted on each page with Enron’s logo.

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Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.