Fri, 09 Aug 2002


Thomas Middlehoff's failure

Once upon a time, there was a media firm in the tranquil town of Guetersloh that had become great thanks to book clubs. Little by little, the firm worked its way forward in all areas of the media and finally got a radiant young king who wanted to make a gigantic empire out of the kingdom, which had long become important.

And he dreamed of the stock market. Naturally the little town had been too small for him for some time, for the young dynamic ruler had seen much of the world and had dined alongside the mightiest media czars.

And thus Thomas Middelhoff decided that his empire needed a second capital, which he settled in glittering New York.

The Internet promised the best of all profits and the young king had already earned a tidy sum of money in his time as crown prince. With this, he could rapidly expand his kingdom.

But despite his fairy-tale rise to the top of the media concern, things failed to go further for Thomas Middelhoff.

The dreams of a profitable Internet business burst like bubbles.

The music business became harder and harder, the book market groaned, things didn't go so well in the magazine business and efforts in the daily newspaper business became an embarrassment. The king had been in too much of a hurry.

--Frankfurter Rundschau, Frankfurt

Punishing dishonest executives

Corporate executives who deceive and defraud investors are now more likely to find themselves behind bars.

Congress, in an attempt to help a sinking market find a quick rebound, passed a series of bills over the past 10 days that surely needed more deliberation. Despite the haste, the legislation has enough thoughtful components to have wide- reaching and lasting impact.

The basic pieces of the legislation are sound, but how they are used will determine just how effective this reform is over the long term. For example, the board that will oversee the accounting industry will have disciplinary and subpoena powers.

If it operates quietly and apolitically, the board will be effective. But it can just as easily be counterproductive if it is overly aggressive and too public, adding to investor anxiety.

No package of laws will make dishonest executives suddenly turn honest, nor will this legislation restore decimated retirement accounts.

-- The Greenville News, South Carolina