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Business was the news of 2002

Don Rogers

The ballot leaves to the editors to choose the top 10 business stories of the year across America. Sometime soon, AP will send along a top 10 for national news, and a top 10 for international news, a top 10 for sports news, and probably a top 10 for entertainment news, too.But the business ballot could just as well serve as the main news ballot, prominently as economic news and scandal have played this year.Look at some of the choices:”The federal investigation of Enron leads to the indictment of former CFO Andrew Fastow and expands to include the company’s relationship with banks and other firms.” (Aspen provides the second homes of choice to this executive clan.)”Accounting giant Arthur Andersen is shattered by the Enron scandal, and then convicted of obstruction of justice, fined $500,000 and sentenced to five years’ probation.” (Vail Resorts in then dropped Andersen as its auditor.)”Top executives of Adelphia, Worldcom, Tyco and other companies are indicted, hauled into court in handcuffs and charged with accounting fraud or theft.” (The heads of these three have second homes in our fair valley.)Outside the High Country ties, there’s the other stuff: zero interest sends car sales through the roof; stock market slips and recovers in the fourth quarter to the point of the Dow being (so far) just 13 percent down from last year, the S&P 20 percent off the mark; Argentina defaults on $141 billion in debt; West Coast ports shut down in a lockout; foreclosures and remortgages hit record paces; the case against Microsoft adds up to a big nuthin’; the “recovery, what recovery?”; and of course the most intriguing business story of them all – consumers go right on spending despite it all.There’s the fully satisfying resignation of Harvey Pitt from his ridiculous post as chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission. What nut appointed that guy? Oh, the one we endorsed for president. Well, moving right along …The sweetest tidbit for a cynic was news that Martha Stewart may well spend some time in a cell for her exceedingly well-timed unloading of Imclone stock just before it bottomed out.For a mere chuckle, there’s the image of mean ol’ Jack Welch getting embarrassed by his ex and giving up some of his embarrassment of rich retirement bennies from GE.More seriously for us, United Airlines flying toward bankruptcy likely will cause some short-term disruption with winter flights into Eagle County Regional Airport, though someone surely will step up quickly if United can’t hold up its commitments.The business pages have never been so fascinating. D.R.


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