"Only months before Enron Corp.'s bankruptcy filing in December 2001, the firm was widely regarded as one of the most innovative, fastest growing, and best managed businesses in the United States. With the swift collapse, shareholders, including thousands of Enron workers who held company stock in their 401(k) retirement accounts, lost tens of billions of dollars. Investigations of wrongdoing may take years to conclude, but Enron's failure already raises financial oversight issues with wider applications. Why didn't the watchdogs bark? This report briefly examines the accounting system that failed to provide a clear picture of the firm's true condition, the independent auditors and board members who were unwilling to challenge Enron's management, the Wall Street stock analysts and bond raters who missed the trouble ahead, the rules governing employer stock in company pension plans, and the unregulated energy derivatives trading that was the core of Enron's business. The report also describes related legislation and will be updated regularly. An indexed list of all Enron-related bills is available on the CRS [Congressional Research Service] website."
CRS Report for Congress, RS21135