These stories on the origins of the stock market boom and bust of the 1990s are based on reporting by a team of Washington Post reporters.
Clark E. McLeod carried the hopes and savings of his Iowa hometown with him as he created a telecommunications giant. Only later, after the company was in bankruptcy and McLeod had retired to his horse farm after pocketing about $98 million from exercising his stock options, did people begin to wonder about the person in whom they had placed their faith.
Ask Frank G. Zarb or any other official of the Nasdaq about the bubble and they will say it was a result of an unusual number of external factors converging at once. They sidestep another contributing factor -- the Nasdaq itself, a self-policing body that encouraged and enabled thousands of highly risky companies to list their shares on the market.
CNBC rode the national obsession with the stock market to a brief moment as the leading cable news network, and Joe Kernan, a former stockbroker, became one of its stars by covering the market like it was sports. But if they helped turn analysts and CEOs into celebrities, Kernan and CNBC had plenty of company in the media, which hitched a ride on the dot-com express.
The Venture Capitalist:
He was known as "the Johnny Appleseed of Silicon Valley" because of the seed money he gave to Internet entrepreneurs. But critics now question whether John Doerr, a famously enthusiastic booster of the new medium, helped create a climate where investors and entrepreneurs alike took inordinate risks.
The Investment Bank:
Tossing aside old ways of evaluating companies and creating complex schemes that only a handful of specialists could understand, investment bankers would do just about anything to solve a client's problems. No bank epitomized this approach more than Credit Suisse First Boston Corp., where the prevailing ethos was "you never turn down a deal."
Once they were the scholar-geeks of the financial world, which was fine with energy analyst John E. Olson. But he knew the nature of his job had changed when one day Kenneth L. Lay had him fired.