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The Blame Game

A key question in the blame game is always: Who knew what, when? This was the question that reporters and Congressional investigators tried to answer during the Watergate scandal, and it's a key question about the Internet bubble. The question is crucial because it's about intent. In the case of the bubble, ignorance and stupidity are not illegal—but pushing stocks intentionally on the retail investor, which a banker knew or believed to be valueless, may certainly be illegal. It is critical to understand what bankers and venture firms really believed about the companies they were taking public.

Intent is also often difficult to establish. This is why trials in investor suits often are lengthy and complicated, and why so many allegations are settled out of court.


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