Once the seventh largest company in America, Enron was formed in 1985 when InterNorth acquired Houston Natural Gas. The company branched into many non-energy-related fields over the next several years, including such areas as Internet bandwidth, risk management, and weather derivatives (a type of weather insurance for seasonal businesses). The Enron fraud case is extremely complex. Some say Enron's demise is rooted in the fact that in 1992, Jeff Skilling, then president of Enron's trading operations, convinced federal regulators to permit Enron to use an accounting method known as "mark to market." This was a technique that was previously only used by brokerage and trading companies. With mark to market accounting, the price or value of a security is recorded on a daily basis to calculate profits and losses. Using this method allowed Enron to count projected earnings from long-term energy contracts as current income. This was money that might not be collected for many years. It is thought that this technique was used to inflate revenue numbers by manipulating projections for future revenue Enron had been buying any new venture that looked promising as a new profit center. Their acquisitions were growing exponentially. Enron had also been forming off balance sheet entities to move debt off of the balance sheet and transfer risk for their other business ventures. These SPEs were also established to keep Enron's credit rating high, which was very important in their fields of business. Because the executives believed Enron's long-term stock values would remain high, they looked for ways to use the company's stock to hedge its investments in these other entities. They did this through a complex arrangement of special purpose entities they called the Raptors. The Raptors were established to cover their losses if the stocks in their start-up businesses fell. When the telecom industry suffered its first downturn, Enron suffered as...
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