Jewish World Review July 10, 2002 / 1 Menachem-Av 5762
Cooking the books
A Recipe For Fun, Profit And Prison
As you plan your summer financial barbecues, there are plenty of diverse choices available for your hungry
guests and investors. Most top stock analysts, CEOs, auditors, accountants and financial managers have left little doubt that 2002's favorite summer recipe involves cooking the books. There are quite a number of approaches to this time-honored business reporting, but it's most important that when cooking your books, you make sure to follow the instructions carefully, for there is no external monitoring of your preparations. You are on your own, but you can be trusted....right? Here's one straight from Martha Stewart's "Insider's Living. "
CORPORATE BOOK CAKE
- Falsified Records
- 10 cups Corporate Greed
- Management Bonuses
- Dash of Fuzzy Math
- 3.9 billion tbsp Line Costs
- One imperceptible smidgeon of Capital Investments
- 1/5 Amendment Privilege
- Tens of thousands pureed Naive Investors
- 3/4 Cup Hidden Overseas Accounts
- Finely chopped Self-regulation
- A few million well-placed Political Contributions (both parties)
- Bankruptcy (as needed)
- 10 Quarts Massive Fraud
- 1/2 cup Anemic Audits (Arthur Anderson's complicity makes for a tasty cake)
- One SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt, peeled, sliced thinly
- One tsp. Insider Information
- 2-300 finely calibrated Golden Parachutes
- One stick Corruption
Grease the correct political party and stir in massive fraud
Whip line costs until they appear to have the texture of capital expenditures
Suck up any and all consumer confidence
Spread insider information evenly over the analyst's palms
Blanch the former employees' pension plans
Overstate revenue by 3.9 billion cups
Drain saving accounts of small investors and retirees
Melt in corporate greed and corruption. Flavor to taste.
Sprinkle over-valued stocks and bonds through the entire market
Use accounting firm consulting contracts to soften audits.
Shred evidence of malfeasance and blend with falsified records and 1/5 amendment.
Reduce the mix until free of all corporate responsibility, business ethics and public trust.
Just before bankruptcy, add excessive management bonuses (Golden Parachute brand recommended)
Add Harvey Pitt only after market has completely dissolved.
Lightly brush the pan with fuzzy math.
Pour entire mix in hidden overseas accounts.
Turn up political heat and cook in corporate greed for years and years.
Take out dish and cool it in an overseas account until SEC investigators disregard it completely.
When stew has been thoroughly digested, bring President to the table.
Serves: Enron, Tyco, Worldcom, Adelphia, Global Crossing, etc.
Note: If used under proper corporate conditions you can have this cake and eat it too.
JWR contributor Steve Young, Prism Award winner and Humanitas Prize nominee for his
television writing, is contributing editor at the Writers Guild of
America's "Written By" magazine. He is the author of the forthcoming "Great Failures Of
The Extremely Successful," Tallfellow Press, 2002
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© 2002, Steve Young