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DYSFUNCTIONAL GOVERNMENT:

THINKING DOMINOES

by FRED CEDERHOLM
Costs for the problems, misdeeds, and inactions I’ve been chronicling will run in the mega-billions - even trillions of dollars. There is now potential to destroy this nation as we know it for generations to come.
I’ve been thinking about dominoes. Actually I’ve been thinking about 2007, forensic accounting, the Dollar, interest rates, debts, the real estate market, energy, equities, and ... In my last column of the year, I usually try to lay the groundwork for what I (more than likely) will be discussing in the coming year. I claim no links to Nostradamus, and if I had a crystal ball, it – like everything else in my house right now - would be covered with a layer of plaster dust. However... if there were one word I would choose to sum up what can see as the buzzword/catchword for 2007, it would be “dominoes.”

You see, as a child I had fun playing with dominoes – not the game itself per se, but rather standing them upright in lines, then nudging one and watching them all the rest topple over – one after another. Anyone familiar with my columns in print (or on-line) is aware that I have a number of concerns about this nation and the messes Uncle $ugar faces on almost every front. Last Thursday, I was the guest speaker at the Rochelle Kiwanis Golden K Chapter’s breakfast meeting. Please read on. I gave them a choice of topics for my presentation, but they chose to hear about my educational experiences regarding my two summers attending Exeter College, Oxford, England. Most were already familiar with my weekly columns in the Rochelle News-Leader. Afterwards... a couple of the men said they knew what an accountant and an auditor does, but they weren’t certain what I meant by being a forensic accountant? “Why does that have some impact on what you write - and why you write it?”

I told them that to the best of my knowledge nobody really gets a degree in forensic accounting – not yet anyway. That designation comes pretty much from the experience of “specializing” in failures – bankruptcies, divorces, troubled debt restructurings, debtors in possession, and investigations into criminal (and civil) malfeasance on the part of officials, directors, and officers in their various fiduciary capacities. Forensic accountants are “business morticians” – auditors who perform “autopsies” on the records to determine the cause of “death,” who was responsible, and what parts might be salvageable. Damage computations are often required, and/or a determination of when a reasonably prudent person should have seen/foreseen the impending problems, or demise. The forensic accountant works primarily with official documents, minutes, correspondence, financial statements, and other printed matter because the relevant parties - make that “the suspects” - (under advice of counsel) aren’t talking!

Much of what I did (or do) as a forensic accountant, I apply in the researching and the writing of my weekly columns. There aren’t a whole lot of us “forensics” out there to begin with, and even fewer who pen weekly commentaries in an attempt to alert/inform the general public about newsworthy/ developing events, stories, and topics that are impacting and destroying our world. Hardly any of the subjects (or topics) of my prior columns have been fixed by those who should be in the position to fix them. If anything “the powers that be” have totally ignored addressing the issues, or even worse - continued the policies which only compound the problems. When the blow-up (or demise) finally occurs, public understanding of the background of events - and awareness of the players, their roles, and their actions/inactions strengthens the case for culpability in finding the guilty parties guilty.

In 2007, we find ourselves at a precipice regarding so many problems facing this nation. The status of the Dollar, interest rate volatility, our debts/deficits, the real estate bubble, energy dependence, overpriced stocks, negative savings, dependence on foreign capital/investors, disaster ill-preparedness, and an overspread military are all inter-related much like a portfolio of troubled loans that are cross-collateralized and cross-defaulted. The blow-up of one would/ should/ could trigger the toppling of all the rest - much like my childhood string of upright dominoes. Will 2007 be the year of the “dominoes?”

So many times in my years spent working on litigation and investigations for the FDIC and the RTC on failed banks and savings and loans, I saw “alleged” guilty parties walk from all their misdeeds, responsibilities, and liabilities. When confronted with evidence against them and given a choice between being crooked or stupid, we so frequently heard: “Boy, was I dumb!” Costs for the problems, misdeeds, and inactions I’ve been chronicling will run in the mega-billions - even trillions of dollars. There is now potential to destroy this nation as we know it for generations to come. Thru my columns, I’m trying to inform my readership to preclude any defense of incompetence, of stupidity, of ignorance, of innocence, and of moronic stubbornness in allowing the guilty to walk free. If the “dominoes” fall in 2007, who will really end up paying the price - the guilty parties, or the people? I’m Fred Cederholm and I’ve been thinking. You should be thinking, too.


Copyright 2006 Questions, Inc. All rights reserved. Fred Cederholm is a CPA/CFE, a forensic accountant, and writer. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A., M.A. and M.A.S.). He can be reached at asklet@rochelle.net.


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This story was published on December 26, 2006.