One of my colleagues triumphantly announced that his son bought BP stock yesterday, and I think expected us to be surprised or outraged or jealous, I guess. Unfortunately, he was talking to economists, who, if they paid attention, know full well that the odds are good in favor of BP if there is any precedent what happened in Exxon. Here’s cartoonist Scott Adams’ take, which as usual, captures the perversity of the issue with both wit and intelligence:
When I heard that BP was destroying a big portion of Earth, with no serious discussion of cutting their dividend, I had two thoughts: 1) I hate them, and 2) This would be an excellent time to buy their stock. And so I did. Although I should have waited a week. People ask me how it feels to take the side of moral bankruptcy. Answer: Pretty good! Thanks for asking. How’s it feel to be a disgruntled victim? I have a theory that you should invest in the companies that you hate the most. The usual reason for hating a company is that the company is so powerful it can make you balance your wallet on your nose while you beg for their product. Oil companies such as BP don’t actually make you beg for oil, but I think we all realize that they could. It’s implied in the price of gas.
Read the rest:
John Keefe, writing for the Maritime Professional last month, also took up the question, though with less information and brio than Adams:
Keefe I do think has a point that Adams doesn’t quite see: that companies have gone paff! in recent years, leaving the public holding the bag for the consequences and shareholders with worthless stock. BP got driven out Nigeria, for example, and though the average Nigerian may not be in any way better off, Nigerian companies wanting to become oil barons certainly have.