The bankruptcy of Enron Corp. has evolved into a scandal of enormous proportions involving allegations of fraud, corruption and unethical practices on the part of Enron’s corporate executives, members of its board of directors, external auditors, and high government officials in the USA. No doubt there will be many articles written about various aspects of the Enron scandal. The focus of this paper is on the relationships between Enron’s business model and the deregulatory phase of the American economy during the 1980s and 1990s. It is the argument of this paper that deregulation in the US electricity and natural gas industries fostered the creation of the Enron business model, and that this model was unsustainable, resulting in the demise of Enron Corp. Furthermore, while Enron can be viewed as an example of capitalistic excess, the paper reveals how the Enron business model developed as an American form of a public private partnership, similar to the types of public private partnerships that have been created in recent years in the UK. Investigating Enron as a public private partnership may help us to better understand the role of public private partnerships in contemporary capitalism and shed some light on the advisability of deregulatory schemes and the unintended consequences that can result from such schemes.
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