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The End of Ethics and A Way Back: How To Fix A Fundamentally Broken Global Financial System by Jordan D. Mamorsky, Theodore Roosevelt Malloch

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Chapter 8

HealthSouth and WorldCom: How a Gluttonous Appetite for Expansion Resulted in Accounting Fraud and Failed Corporations

Gluttony denotes, not any desire of eating and drinking, but an inordinate desire . . . leaving the order of reason, wherein the good of moral virtue consists.

Thomas Aquinas

Modern shareholders rarely demand temperance from their highly paid CEOs. The desired end for a company shareholder is usually consistent profits and high returns. Company profits equal rises in the price of the company’s shares, and accordingly, more money in a shareholder’s bank account.

For public company CEOs, the devil is usually in the details in reaching the desired end of increased profits and prices per share. While many CEOs exercise virtue, diligence, and shrewd strategic planning to facilitate economic growth, there are many heinous examples of CEOs falling prey to the economic vice of gluttony.

Corporate gluttony is fatal. The popular definition of gluttony is “excess in eating or drinking” or “greedy or excessive indulgence.”1 Extended to the corporate world, gluttony is an inordinate desire to achieve the “indulgence” of quarterly profits, shareholder approval, and, in turn, the maintenance of extraordinary executive compensation. A lack of prudence and out-of-control corporate consumption, is of the one of the greatest sins a CEO can commit. Gluttony misleads shareholders, betrays market trust, and results in the evisceration of the corporate entity itself.

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