This week’s worthwhile reads, after a bit of a rant about US political posturing and BP.
England’s World Cup campaign kicks off in South Africa tonight with a clash against the US. Improbably, these two friendly nations who are currently allies in a bitter seven-year war in the Middle East will meet on the pitch with national scores to settle.
The reason for the acrimony is, of course, BP. And the bitterness should be ours.
That might sound odd given that BP is currently gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico like an England fan relieving himself after seven pints in the first half.
Yet look at the response from the two nations’ players in the drama.
- BP immediately stepped up to the plate, assuming responsibility beyond what it immediately had to (it only owns 65% of the well, remember, and it wasn’t even the company directly responsible for the accident).
- It’s launched a massive clean-up campaign and already sent millions of dollars to fisherman affected. It’s attempted to use locals in the clean-up. Compare with the US government’s tardy response to Katrina, or even Exxon’s feet-dragging in Alaska.
- It’s tried to fix the sodding well! There seems to be a perception in the US that BP executives have been playing bridge and wondering whether to bother, but in reality they’ve gone on a mini-war footing to try to mitigate the disaster.
- In contrast, Barrack Obama has behaved like a four-year old child.
I agree the odd loose word from CEO Tony Hayward has been bad, but it’s not been inaccurate. The fact is accidents do happen, and if the US is going to keep demanding vast quantities of the world’s dwindling supplies of oil, it makes no sense to castigate a company that has suffered from a freak accident and then done everything in its power to try to put it right.
UK commentators are increasingly pointing out US companies’ dirty oil operations in Nigeria, not to mention the poor record of the US with respect to the Bhopal disaster. The latter killed over 2,000 people and poisoned an estimated half a million.
Most disappointing of all to liberals has been President Obama’s language. He seems to have turned into George W. Bush, ready to ‘kick ass’ and take names.
The US is the most powerful country in the world, and like Rome 2,000 years ago, it requires spectacle to govern. As the Imperial ruler, it also commands a certain hypocrisy – and it’d be fanciful to expect otherwise.
Nevertheless it is also a country that got great on laws about free enterprise, private property, and a healthy view of business and capitalism.
I’d be the last to say industry should get away with anything it likes, especially with respect to the environment, but I’m struggling to see what BP did wrong here other than get unlucky.
If anything, the US regulators deserve the blame for not insisting a relief well was drilled as a precaution. Then again, tens of thousands of wells have been drilled in the Gulf before this accident happened.
Stick it to them Rooney!
Some highlights from the money blogs
- I still think BP shares are a buy (albeit risky!) – Monevator
- Looking for a demographic dividend – The Psy-Fi Blog
- Emigration and wages – Stumbling and Mumbling
- The six cheapest stocks by Naked P/E – iii blog
- How much house do you need? – Cash Money Life
- Are you a job junkie? – Brip Brap
- Making money from the BP oil spill – Saving to Invest
- Fired for being too pretty – The Digerati Life
- A smorgasbord of US tax info – Oblivious Investor
- Six things to get rid of from your closet – The Everyday Minimalist
- Power saving TVs [Spooky!] – Consumerism Commentary
- Clan Penzo’s latest taste panel – Len Penzo
From the big boys
- Let’s hear it for Alistair Darling [Really!] – Bond Vigilantes
- More evidence: he hid £7 billion from Brown – FT
- BP highlights income fund imbalances – FT
- How we should cap pension contributions – FT
- A trust that invests in early stage China – FT
- CGT fears spurs rush to gold coins – Telegraph
- BP warns institutions of dividend hold – Telegraph
- Lloyds launches 5.4% 5-year bond – Telegraph
- The end of free banking approaches – Independent
- BP dividend suspension: Not whether but when – Peston
- Dow and the ‘six bear’ comparison – Money Moves Markets
- The impact of Eurozone austerity – The Economist
- Weird: cyclicals outperforming alongside gov bonds – Stock Tickle
- Does gold belong in your portfolio? – Fama/French forum
- A 15% yield from German property – Motley Fool
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