No Apologia, But …

The tawdry behavior of Skilling and Lay, and Fannie Mae execs (revealed in gory detail last week), is inexcusable.

But ...

Legal—as well as illegal—forms of such behaviors are likely to persist, and perhaps increase, as we experience the full-bore arrival of an economy whose basis is almost entirely intangibles. Just as the intellectual property lawyers will be driving Maseratis for the foreseeable future, all of us in enterprise will be wrestling with value-valuations in a world where the great economies have banked their coke ovens, scrapped their material goods—and come to depend on biotech scientists, programmers, experience providers (think Nike, Starbucks—yes Nike, which several years ago Fortune declared a service company, not a manufacturer), and the like.

New rules are needed for new games—and the shakedown cruise will be long and at times painful. (Think about Microsoft's continuing tribulations, now centered on the European Union, and the RIM-Blackberry patent dispute.)