Enron Commodity Trading was Not Original

If one were to go an annual report for El Paso Energy from 2000; they would find on page 11 of the shareholders report a picture of their 80,000 square foot trading floor, with 700 merchant staff. Enron many thought had in fact originated this; once upon a time claiming to be the largest in the world energy trading floor. So it was not new for Enron have come up with the concept, yes as far as trading floors for energy were concerned they did build a bigger one. It was not totally innovative for them to have more traders at that point, not even very innovative to trade other things like; lumber futures to Del Webb or Pulte Homes or US Homes, or bandwidth or water rights on top of their oil and gas trading and pipeline over capacity.

Trading the raw energy itself had been done before and so had the trading of environmental credits and contracts. That is an obvious and viable way to reduce pollution through free enterprise proven efficiencies. The El Paso -Merchant Energy Group’s 2000 earnings before taxes was 960 million, 1999 it was 329 million and in 1998 it exceeded 293 million. That group traded LNG, Power generation, financial services, coal and oil and gas and power assets. They also had global networks division, which was in the telecommunications business. Of course a simple look at El Paso Energy shows although they profited most from trading they were grounded by owning and acquiring pipelines, refining, drilling, oil field services, storage of product, and other real life services. On page 48, 49, 50, 51 and 52 of the 2000 annual report you will see about 15 partnerships and limited partnerships being used for all kinds of stuff. The whole report contains not less than 90 subsidiaries and limited partnerships with all kinds of sweet heart deals of stock swaps and stock options and voting rights.

So Enron took normal industry type methods and really worked the system. Taking what was working well to the benefit of the user and industry and increasing it ten folf. Of course if you look at any railroad company they do the same thing it has been going on since Rockefeller days. I am not sure the Enron thing did not go further because it was bigger. If it was making money it would not have mattered and it would have been business as usual, yet with the market driving it down in its final days and the stock plummeting and the serious junk credit rating down grade, of course now then it was all illegal. Perhaps the biggest issue was the hiding of transparency along with creative book keeping with their friends at A. Anderson and the façade which followed.

When El Paso merged with Coastal everything was forgotten and the company moved on. What if Dynenergy merged with Enron and then all the old data of Enron was gone? And the Global Crossing Quest Deal had been a go, then what? What if GE had merged with Honeywell, maybe they would not be in dire straights. It seems the idea here is to run up the stock and look good on paper even though you are running on fumes and barrowed to the hilt and then sell at the top and forget about it. Well this time the greatest escape plan fell short and this time it was serious. In the case of the pre-merger audit with El Paso Energy and the Coastal Corporation, then changed to El Paso CGP Corporation for the merger the audits were done by separate companies. PriceWaterHouseCooper did el Paso Energy and Deloitte & Touche LLP did The Coastal Corporation.

Yet whatever the overlap it is simply historical data, and who is to say if either company was as financially stable as it was prior to the whole? Think if Enron and Dynenergy would have merged and all those little partnerships had been able to cash in at Dynenergy. WOW, talk about a run on the bank that would have been. I wonder how many LLCs of Enron contained board members of Dynenergy, that would sure add fire to the flame. Maybe none, but what if? What if the merger took place and know one knew? What would our country look like today? We would not have had Sarbaines Oxley, we would have less regulation, less attacks from attorneys generals on business and industry. We would have less off shoring of corporations, less outsourcing of jobs and we would have never lost 7 trillion in our stock market. Privatizing one-third social security would not be an issue, everyone would want in. We would have more confidence in our markets and less worry of being passed by China as the leader of the free world. Think about it?

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