Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room review

I didn’t know much about the whole Enron debacle. All I knew was that it was a big company in the US which went bankrupt due to fraud perpetrated by the executives.

I found it really interesting to learn what happened and how it could happen. It was really quite sad to see how the greed of some destroyed the lives of so many. They interviewed one guy who had been working for one of the power companies that Enron purchased. He was nearing retirement and had worked for the company his whole life. Before Enron took over, his pension had reached $350,000 odd. After Enron went down he was left with $1200 and no, there are no numbers missing, he was left to retire on twelve hundred dollars while the CEO, COO, etc took in excess of $200 000 000 each. That’s correct, two hundred million dollars in bonuses in addition to their multi-million dollar salaries.

One aspect of all this that shocked everyone so much was that the banks, auditors and investment advisors all knew that something illegal was going on. After the trial, Arthur Anderson had to close it’s doors because it had lost all integrity (another 28 000 jobs lost on top of the 30 000 lost at Enron). This phenomenon is called ‘diffusion of responsibility’ and is one of the things responsible for the negative aspects of globalisation (see my next post for more on diffusion of responsibility).

All in all the documentary was very informative and thought provoking. So interesting to see that the two main whistleblowers were women. It must take tremendous courage to make a stand in an environment like that. I give it 9/10