Kurt Eichenwald, author of Conspiracy of Fools, an inside look at the events leading up to the Enron collapse, has an excellent wrap-up article on the Lay and Skilling verdicts in today's New York Times. His opening paragraphs are particularly succint:
"Regardless of whether the jury verdict against Kenneth L. Lay and Jeffrey K. Skilling is upheld, testimony from 56 days of trial has sealed what is sure to be history's judgment - one that is unlikely to be vulnerable to appeal.
The Enron case will forever stand as the ultimate reflection of an era of near madness in finance, a time in the late 1990's when self-certitude and spin became a substitute for financial analysis and coherent business models. Controls broke down and management deteriorated as arrogance overrode careful judgment, allowing senior executives to blithely push aside their critics.
Indeed, it could be argued that the most significant lesson from the trial had nothing to do with whether the defendants, both former Enron chief executives, committed the crimes charged in their indictments. Instead, the testimony and the documents admitted during the case painted a broad and disturbing portrait of a corporate culture poisoned by hubris, leading ultimately to a recklessness that placed the business's survival at risk."