Dark Markets of Enron

If you haven’t noticed, our government hasn’t been regulating things in this country for about eight years. It cuts across almost every agency in the bureaucracy. Mostly they just unfunded the regulators or told them to stop doing their jobs. See recent headlines on airplanes being grounded because they hadn’t been inspected in timely fashion for an example.

You need only listen to the news any given day to be reminded. We haven’t been keeping our government accountable. Neither has our corporate media. So, we can blame only ourselves. Or only our media, if we are cowards. (Yes, I consider ignoring our own failing an act of cowardice. Blaming others is the height of it.)

It was interesting to hear of another regulatory failing on Marketplace on Monday night. This one not of Executive Branch malfeasance, but one of political will-bending in the Legislature in December of 2000.

I’m sure everyone remembers Enron. They went south in a very large way about a year later. But before that they got this legislation passed. Basically, deregulating (and effectively hiding) the trading of about 30% of the energy market.

Recently, we’ve had out-of-control rises in the price of crude oil. All the analysts say we’ve got plenty of supply. So, whatever could be the cause of the price rises?

Well the Legislature has finally fixed their part in this non-regulation snafu. Soon it is of course passing back into the Executive’s hands. What will happen there, only time will tell.

Michael Greenburger, previous Head of Trading and Markets for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission says “many observers believe that because those markets are not being policed, malpractices are being committed and traders are able to boost the price virtually at their will… From my own experience as a commodity regulator, I believe that if the Bush Administration were serious about its regulation, we could begin seeing prices drop within a month.”

If things don’t start moving in a positive direction, let’s make sure we tell our elected employees we aren’t happy about it.