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Jewish World Review July 10, 2002 / 1 Menachem-Av 5762

Steve Young

Steve Young
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Consumer Reports

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. "



  • 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 Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Steve Young