185. Cows & The Enron Method
First lets review the basics:
Under feudalism, you have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.
Under fascism, you have two cows. The government seizes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.
Under communism, you have two cows. You must take care of them, but the government owns all the milk.
Under capitalism, you have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull. Your herd multiplies; you sell out, invest the money and retire on the income.
With Enron, you have two cows. You borrow 80% of the forward value of the two cows from your bank, then buy another cow with 5% down and the rest financed by the seller on a note, bearing interest at twice the prime, callable if the market cap of your publicly listed company, whose stock you've put up as collateral, goes below $20 billion. You sell the three cows to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at a second bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with an associated unit, so that you get four cows back, plus a tax exemption for five cows.
To continue: The milk rights of six cows are transferred via an intermediary to a Cayman Islands firm secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to seven cows back to your listed company. The annual report trumpets that the company owns eight cows with an option on one more. All of the above transactions are cheerfully blessed by your independent auditors, who, of course, served as consultants on said transactions, but only after the fact.
Now, you are all set to disclose, via press release and conference call with analysts, that Enron, a major owner of cows, will begin trading cows over the Web. Analysts proclaim Enron the prototypical New Economy company, bull the shares to the moon, enabling you to sell huge globs of the stock and use part of the proceeds to buy a state-of-the-art shredding machine.
So, it is obvious that the fault lies with the investors. If they had continued to have faith in this brilliant plan there would not be a problem.