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Why excuses hamper explanations

The US is in recession, or, at best, slowly coming out of it. As with all recessions, some things remain constant. First, company executives, bankers and investors generally don't want to admit there is a problem. They'll convince themselves that there's a new dynamic in the market that this time will make recession impossible, avoidable or at least short-lived. They'll hold off sacking people. They'll blame it on another sector of the market - in this case, they say, it started with the bursting of the tech bubble in April 2000 - and swear it won't affect them. And they'll refuse to take action to protect their companies, such as shoring up balance sheets, because they look back with nostalgia to the time when their stock prices were higher - two weeks ago, two months ago, six months ago...

Enron is simply a spectacular symptom of an economic and financial system in decline for nearly two years. Yet even now, few want to believe it. They want the 1990s back. They know it's unrealistic, they know the tech boom is unlikely to repeat itself, but they still remember the drug of the boom times.

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