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Big Rise in Profit Places Oil Giants on the Defensive
NY Times ^ | 10/28/5 | Jad Mouawad and Simon Romero

Posted on 10/28/2005 1:38:17 AM PDT by Crackingham

Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company, said yesterday that its third-quarter net income jumped 75 percent, to $9.92 billion. Its profit in the first nine months of this year - $25.42 billion - already equals its full-year earnings for 2004. This year's sales, which topped $100 billion in the last quarter, are expected to exceed those of Wal-Mart.

Another oil giant, Royal Dutch Shell, reported a 68 percent jump in profits yesterday, to $9.03 billion. Chevron is expected to post a profit of more than $4 billion today.

This year is shaping up as an exceptionally lucrative one for the oil industry, thanks to strong global demand, tight supplies and high prices for oil and natural gas. While the idea that the Bush administration was considering imposing a windfall profits tax was knocked down yesterday by officials, longstanding resentments against Big Oil are resurfacing and could end up imposing some additional burdens on the industry.

SNIP

Today, Republicans and Democrats alike, aware of the politically sensitive issue of high energy prices, are putting increasing pressure on the oil and gas industry to return some of its profits. The ideas include forcing the industry to invest in more refining capacity or to increase inventories to cushion energy shocks.

SNIP

Senator Bill Frist, the Republican leader, said yesterday that executives of major oil companies will be summoned to Capitol Hill to testify about high energy prices. Some of Mr. Frist's language harked back to the 1970's and early 1980's when cries of price gouging at gasoline pumps were common.

"If there are those who abuse the free enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans," he said, "they ought to be exposed, and they ought to be ashamed."

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: economy; energy; gas; gasoline; oil
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
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1 posted on 10/28/2005 1:38:18 AM PDT by Crackingham
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To: Crackingham

Anyone can invest in these companies, therefore you'd be paying yourself every time you fill up. Sort of a commercial communism if you will.

So what's the 'effen problem? Oh, I get it, lefty reporter for lefty rag interviews non investing lefty with proper lefty $$40k import SUV and feels that, sniff sniff, it's...not ....fair.

Templet non news.


2 posted on 10/28/2005 2:12:57 AM PDT by Leisler
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To: Crackingham

What the hell is Frist doing???????


3 posted on 10/28/2005 2:14:38 AM PDT by NRA1995 (When liberals speak I hear the Vonage music playing.....woo-hoo, woo-hoo-hoo....)
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To: Leisler
The problem is called price gouging. How ethical is it for a company to increase profits behind the screen of hurricanes? This makes me as a consumer want to personally ban those companies who profits skyrocketed in the past quarter.
4 posted on 10/28/2005 2:52:26 AM PDT by NVD
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To: Crackingham
Senator Bill Frist, the Republican leader, said yesterday that executives of major oil companies will be summoned to Capitol Hill to testify about high energy prices. Some of Mr. Frist's language harked back to the 1970's and early 1980's when cries of price gouging at gasoline pumps were common.

"If there are those who abuse the free enterprise system to advantage themselves and their businesses at the expense of all Americans," he said, "they ought to be exposed, and they ought to be ashamed."

I've nver been a fan of Frist, but there was a time when I considered him a decent candidate--someone I could support given mediocre choices. Never again--populism of this sort is one of the worst possible signs.

5 posted on 10/28/2005 2:53:31 AM PDT by Young Scholar
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To: NVD
The problem is called price gouging. How ethical is it for a company to increase profits behind the screen of hurricanes? This makes me as a consumer want to personally ban those companies who profits skyrocketed in the past quarter.

You have no idea what you are talking about, which makes me glad that you "as a consumer" have absolutely no power. The country would be a sad place if we gave people like you any say in things.

6 posted on 10/28/2005 2:58:23 AM PDT by Young Scholar
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To: Young Scholar

Why does it not bother you that 'big oil' has made huge profits on the back of the hurricane crisis? Do you consider this price gouging? If so, do you actually believe that consumers hold no purchasing power?

You have no idea what you are talking about, which makes me glad that you "as a consumer" have absolutely no power. The country would be a sad place if we gave people like you any say in things.

Why don't you explain yourself; your comment was vague.


7 posted on 10/28/2005 3:09:58 AM PDT by NVD
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To: NVD
The problem is called price gouging.

Price gouging is just "left speak" for making a profit. Allowing prices to rise and fall with the market is the quickest and best way to get what is needed to those who need it the most.

8 posted on 10/28/2005 3:14:07 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: NVD
Why does it not bother you that 'big oil' has made huge profits on the back of the hurricane crisis? Do you consider this price gouging? If so, do you actually believe that consumers hold no purchasing power?

Ok, so you don't hold no power, but no power to "ban the companies" you don't like.

As for the economics, of course profits are going to increase following a supply-disturbing hurricane (which is certainly not the main reason for this increase, since it didn't come until two months into the quarter), unless a company suffered severe losses to the hurrucane.

A) hurricane destroys small percentage of supply B) energy consumption is inelastic, meaning consumers can't significantly reduce consumption even if prices increase C) therefore, prices have to increase a significant amount before demand comes down to the slightly reduced supply D) companies are now selling nearly as much oil/gas as before (since supply disruption was small percentage of their total), but at significantly higher prices (and their production costs are roughly the same), meaning much higher profits.

It's not gouging; it's free market, and allowing it is the only way we'll avoid the shortages of the Carter years.

9 posted on 10/28/2005 3:19:46 AM PDT by Young Scholar
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To: NRA1995

"What the hell is Frist doing???????"

Same thing Teddy Roosevelt did 100 years ago. Calling the price-gougers/fixers(trusts back then) to account.

We now know that what we've been told since the spring when prices spiked up was utter bullshit. The oil companies told us that their price at the pump merely reflected the higer demand and increased cost of crude and the resulting higher price to refineries. The prices spiked further during short interruptions in supply caused by two major hurricanes.

Well, you can't have it both ways. If the $3.00/gallon price at the pump was merely a reflection of cost, how the hell did they make profits of 75%?

The quicker we move away from oil-based fuels to a hydrogen one the better. We won't have to give a damn what some raghead in Oman is thinking today, worry about the effects of storms on our ability to fill our gas tanks or about the frigging Chinese economy's demand for energy ratcheting up prices beyond toleration.

Earlier this week the Saudi oil minister was quoted as saying that he thought with all current factors considered, the natural price/barrel should be $30. No doubt he sees a time coming were an ever increasing number of cars will powered by hydrogen fuel cells and the price of crude oil and the revenues of Mideast countries sinks ever lower, never to return.


10 posted on 10/28/2005 3:31:38 AM PDT by Neville72 (uist)
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To: Neville72
Well, you can't have it both ways. If the $3.00/gallon price at the pump was merely a reflection of cost, how the hell did they make profits of 75%?

They didn't. You misread the numbers, as the NYSlimes intended for you to do. Profits did not increase to 75%, profits increased by 75%. If the profit was $1 last quarter, it would be $1.75 now.

This is a common trick of leftists, or any unscrupulous person with an agenda. It is called lying with statistics.

11 posted on 10/28/2005 3:42:21 AM PDT by marktwain
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"If the $3.00/gallon price at the pump was merely a reflection of cost, why did they make profits of 75%?"

If it's not a gouge, what is it?

Please explain this to me too, somebody. Or provide a link or reference. Be simple. Thanks in advance.


12 posted on 10/28/2005 3:55:29 AM PDT by Syberyenta
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To: NVD
These oil companies would have made huge profits regardless of the hurricanes, so I don't know what your point is.

Perhaps that pandering moron Frist would like to hold Senate hearings on "profiteering" and "price-gouging" in the medical profession -- and then call himself as the first witness.

13 posted on 10/28/2005 3:57:42 AM PDT by Alberta's Child (I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.)
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To: Leisler

"So what's the 'effen problem?"

Are we sending them relief money to repair wells and refineries?


14 posted on 10/28/2005 3:59:38 AM PDT by Smartaleck
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To: Neville72
If the $3.00/gallon price at the pump was merely a reflection of cost, how the hell did they make profits of 75%?

You should read and understand the numbers instead of making these totally unsubstantiated statements. Exxon-Mobil posted profits of nearly $10 billion on sales of $100 billion, which means the return on their investment was about 10%.

15 posted on 10/28/2005 4:00:32 AM PDT by Alberta's Child (I ain't got a dime, but what I got is mine. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.)
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To: Crackingham

And the "wannabe" penny ante capitalists here on FR will be along to insist it was "supply and demand" at work.


16 posted on 10/28/2005 4:01:09 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: cynicom
As will the socialists I see.
17 posted on 10/28/2005 4:01:53 AM PDT by tfecw (It's for the children)
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To: Crackingham
If there are those who abuse the free enterprise system

Unless they formed a cartel on a cornered market they didn't abuse anything. They made money supplying a product in a competitive environment - they had supply-side problems and - more importantly - demand remained inelastic. There was no gouging, just a high demand/supply ratio.

If America doesn't like Big Oil, it should open the gates to Small Oil: allow other players and more competition in, and stop all the environazi law-suits and legislation.

18 posted on 10/28/2005 4:22:45 AM PDT by agere_contra
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To: tfecw
I use to be in the oil business and own a fair amount of Mobile stock.

The leading socialists of this world are the Rockefeller family members, put the onus where it lies not on me.

Exxon/Mobile is not my offspring. Oil supporters here need to remove their glasses and face reality.

19 posted on 10/28/2005 4:23:49 AM PDT by cynicom
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To: Crackingham

Odd that the pure profit, in return for zero productive input, that was made by state and federal governments on those sales is not noted.


20 posted on 10/28/2005 4:27:35 AM PDT by Teacher317
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To: Syberyenta
Please explain this to me too, somebody. Or provide a link or reference. Be simple. Thanks in advance.

See posts 11 and 15. They explain it very well.

21 posted on 10/28/2005 4:30:09 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain this. For some reason, rational thinking flies out the window when it comes to the price of gas.


22 posted on 10/28/2005 4:34:21 AM PDT by Aggie Mama
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To: Teacher317
Oh, our liberal governor here in Wisconsin is also calling for an investigation of 'Big Oil' for gouging Wisconsin consumers. I'd like to see an investigation of the state of Wisconsin for tax-gouging at the pump. We pay one of the largest gas taxes in the country. The money goes into the transportation fund to pay for roads. This year, in a big, sloppy wet kiss for the techer's union, Big Jim Doyle transferred 100 MILLION dollars from the transportation fund to the education fund!

Seems to me that if we have 100 million dollars we don't need for roads, then we are being GOUGED! I demand an investigation!

23 posted on 10/28/2005 4:43:54 AM PDT by Trust but Verify (( ))
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To: Crackingham

Adam Smith said that a group of merchants could hardly have a chance meeting on the street without concocting a scheme to fleece the public. Price gouging/collusion is just a fact of human nature/business among a few players in an industry with a high cost of entrance. Supply/Demand equilibration is just one aspect of it. The market is what it is.


24 posted on 10/28/2005 4:57:38 AM PDT by evolved_rage
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To: cynicom
In a perfect capitalistic society where supply and demand works perfect there should be no profits. Thats at least what I learned in school. Although it is strange thought. So to me this huge increases in oil company profits are a solid evidence that something is wrong.
25 posted on 10/28/2005 5:01:14 AM PDT by tomjohn77
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To: Crackingham
Who benefits from the following:

No new refineries in 30 years?

Limited oil exploration and drilling?

40+ different types of boutique fuels tying up refinery production?

So, perhaps, the way to get revenge on the oil companies is to do the following:

Build new refineries.

Expand oil exploration and drilling.

Nationalize the fuel standards and eliminate "boutique fuels."

26 posted on 10/28/2005 5:02:02 AM PDT by Nephi (The Bush Legacy: Known conservatives are ineligible for the Supreme Court.)
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To: Nephi

Good ideas, now what has Bush done???? The same thing Congress has done.....nuthin'!


27 posted on 10/28/2005 5:06:01 AM PDT by evolved_rage
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To: Crackingham
I guess I have a couple of questions. First, where was the MSM when oil prices tanked in the late '90s, gasoline was .87/gallon and oil companies were losing their asses?

Were they singing the praises of an entire industry which kept providing esential commodities despite doing so at a loss?

In a word, NO.

Most of the people here who gripe about "BIG" anything assume some monolithic evil is behind the controls bagging up the dough, their dough, and that they have made (somehow) no investments, placed no capital at risk, etc.

Yet these same people would not balk at selling their house for more than they paid for it--the more the better. No one carps at getting too BIG of a raise.

Well folks, oil companies do not print money. They earn it. They earn it by taking investment capital and converting it into infrastructure, producing oil wells, refineries, and distribution networks.

The SMALL oil company I have been doing geology for, has invested in just this neck of the woods, 120 million+ in drilling wells, running feeder pipelines, etc. in just the past year.

This with no guarantee that the price of oil will not collapse again (as it periodically does), or that people just like most of you, who thoroughly ignorant of the industry, will scream bloody blue murder because they almost had to pay as much for a gallon of gasoline as they do for milk, and maybe get the congress to TAX the oil companies (How that ADDITIONAL TAX translates to YOU PAYING LESS is beyond me!).

Maybe "BIG MILK" is next on the radar.

After all, all the caterwalling of the people who feel ripped off when someone else makes a return on their investment gets the CONgress to put a cap on how much profit an oil company can make, maybe a cap on how much you can make on your house or stock portfolio is next. You do not even have to replace diminishing reserves with new production, regardless of price. You do not have to fight the selfsame MSM to try to put in a refinery for the umpteenth time only to be stymied because years ago someone couldn't drive the effin boat!

NO, and now that the years of waiting and investment have begun to pay off with capital that can keep things going or expand the production of oil and petroleum products so an ungrateful consumer can get the same product cheaper, the selfsame consumers go on the attack like a bunch of spoiled children.

The same people who crow about bringing down Dan Rather are soooo willing to march in lockstep against the 'BIG' enemies of their wallet, the evil CAPITALISTIC OIL COMPAINES, who might want to show a profit for their investors.

As for the percentages, just for the entertainment of the innumerate, in 1980 the region I work in had 212 drilling rigs operating. In July 1986 there were two. That's right, two. When things picked up a mite toward the end of the year, one of the papers ran the headline "Oil Activity Doubles in the State". Number of rigs drilling? Four. Down 5300% from 1980. Doubled from the month before.

Don't be suckers and fall for the MSM BS.

28 posted on 10/28/2005 5:57:43 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: NRA1995
What the hell is Frist doing???????

Dreaming that someday he will be King?

It is simply and utterly amazing to me that a man so ignorant of simple economic priciples of Capitalism could be lifted to the highest post in the Senate.

He has truely earned the nickname "Limp Frist".......

29 posted on 10/28/2005 6:10:30 AM PDT by Thermalseeker (-)
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To: Syberyenta
"Please explain this to me too, somebody."

You make widgets that the market will buy at $1.00. You have a 50% markup so you make $.50 per widget.

There is heavy demand for widgets and the market is willing to buy them at $10.00. Your cost goes up to $5.00 and you maintain your markup. You make $5.00 a widget.

The people don't like the fact that you're making $5.00 a widget so the goobermint takes over the widget industry. The price of widgets is set at $.50. Widgets are cheap. There are no widgets to buy.

Or if you will look up USSR history not so many years ago. You could buy all the cardboard shoes you wanted at dirt cheap prices....but there were none to buy.

30 posted on 10/28/2005 6:11:22 AM PDT by Proud_texan ("Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." - Barry Goldwater)
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To: marktwain
Sorry,

I don't believe any of it. The oil companies need to be helping out right now. And they are not re-investing their profits as they would like everyone to believe, see FR post:

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1497483/posts

Then look at this article in the Hammond, Indiana Times dated October 14, 2005:

http://www.nwitimes.com/articles/2005/10/14/updates/top_stories/beafcd6ae9dc3eca8625709a005adf41.txt

I know for a fact that that Cheney personally called the BP refineries in NW Indiana to ask that they increase their production in the wake of the Hurricanes, ans their response is to decrease instead.

I know BP is not a US Oil Company, but they do operate here.

I also do not believe everything I hear or read. You have to look a little to find the truth.

The truth is that the oil companies are manipulating the system to artificially increase the prices. They are not re-investing, and they are not trying to help anyone in this country in a time of need.
31 posted on 10/28/2005 6:17:18 AM PDT by southlake_hoosier (.... One Nation, Under God.......)
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To: Crackingham
What about oily Google's windfall profits of some 24%!

The DNC dreamed of Ministry of Commercial Fairness shall equalize things even if it must nationalize our economy like Hillary Care planned for only 1/7th of our economy.

Inelasticity of demand and gross ignorance with political pandering is what's wrong. Ignorance and foolishness is dangerous.

32 posted on 10/28/2005 6:17:52 AM PDT by SevenDaysInMay (Dallas radio)
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To: Smokin' Joe

:::::Standing on my chair, applauding wildly and shouting "WOOO-HOOOO!!!" at your comments:::::::


33 posted on 10/28/2005 6:21:13 AM PDT by Aggie Mama
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To: Nephi
Good points.

We are not looking at pure hands off capitalism at work here, if we were, many new refineries would have been built in the last 30 years. This has warped the supply and demand situation. The supply is tight because of reaching the limits of US refining capacity - in true hands off capitalism this would result in new refineries being built.

The real question in my mind is why are no new refineries being built to average out the sharp variations in the supply situation?

This is a separate problem from the warped crude supply and demand situation.

Neither situation is a good example of true hands off capitalism.

34 posted on 10/28/2005 6:24:11 AM PDT by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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To: southlake_hoosier
What wonderful examples. In the first, Oil companies do not develop oil and gas prospects because no way exists to get the product to market.

Why does no pipeline exist? (HINT: ECOWHACKOS)

In the second, a refinery shuts down units for maintenance and safety inspections. Why? Because it is far cheaper to shut down units on a scheduled basis for inspection and maintenance than replace them when they burn down.

Malicious intent? Hardly.

35 posted on 10/28/2005 6:28:27 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: Neville72
The quicker we move away from oil-based fuels to a hydrogen one the better.

Great idea! Except the hydrogen has to come from somewhere, and that is usually petro product. Hydrogen is a very inefficient fuel source.

36 posted on 10/28/2005 6:28:56 AM PDT by redgolum ("God is dead" -- Nietzsche. "Nietzsche is dead" -- God.)
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To: Crackingham

"Forcing the oil companies to invest in new refineries" LOL, the leftie that wrote this is a bit confused about his own position.


37 posted on 10/28/2005 6:30:26 AM PDT by AxelPaulsenJr (Pray Daily For Our Troops and President Bush and the SAPPS)
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To: Smokin' Joe
Don't be suckers and fall for the MSM BS.

Thank you, Smokin' Joe. The MSM has pushed the "Property is Theft" and "Capitalism is a Conspiracy" nonsense for so long that many people have bought it without really thinking about it.

There just seems to be something in the human psyche that finds it easier to blame a problem on a conspiracy rather than investigate the facts.

38 posted on 10/28/2005 6:30:33 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain
There just seems to be something in the human psyche that finds it easier to blame a problem on a conspiracy rather than investigate the facts.

So true. Maybe we should be investing in Alcoa or Reynolds....'Tinfoil' seems to be in demand lately.

39 posted on 10/28/2005 6:33:44 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly.)
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To: Smokin' Joe
There are other ways of moving product that already exist.

And yes, I would think that a call from the Whitehouse to help out should be answered.
40 posted on 10/28/2005 6:38:18 AM PDT by southlake_hoosier (.... One Nation, Under God.......)
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To: Young Scholar
You have no idea what you are talking about, which makes me glad that you "as a consumer" have absolutely no power. The country would be a sad place if we gave people like you any say in things.

Right you are..bravo!

The price of oil reflects the bizarre OPEC monopoly control..., "perception" of availability, and the resulting futures market....

Production has been down....it's in all the papers...therefore, expenses are down.....no investment in refining....limited investment in drilling new holes... The "boogieman" is not the oil companies....it's simple supply & demand and all government meddling....

Scapegoating is easy, the dimwitted will always fall in line behind the emotional finger pointers....

41 posted on 10/28/2005 6:39:32 AM PDT by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: Smokin' Joe
So true. Maybe we should be investing in Alcoa or Reynolds....'Tinfoil' seems to be in demand lately.

Which brings to mind, who destroyed the steel industry in America?

42 posted on 10/28/2005 6:41:25 AM PDT by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: Proud_texan
You make widgets that the market will buy at $1.00. You have a 50% markup so you make $.50 per widget.

There is heavy demand for widgets and the market is willing to buy them at $10.00. Your cost goes up to $5.00 and you maintain your markup. You make $5.00 a widget.

Increased production doesn't always in increase manufacturering costs, many times it lowers them, thus increasing profits. But what you senario leaves out is competition. This is what is missing in much of today's so called capitalism. In true hands off capitalism it is not just supply vs demand but also *competition* that limits profit - high profit should invite competition. In the "Big Oil" big profit senario this would mean a competitor would built a refinery resulting in the added supply smoothing out supply crunches and the retail price. But that isn't happening is it?

43 posted on 10/28/2005 6:42:39 AM PDT by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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To: Smartaleck
I don't know if our knuckleheads in Congress wrote and passed laws such that they could get cash. I wouldn't doubt it. Anyways, Exxon can, if it needs any, raise any amount it needs, in a day, on any market, through bonds, private borrowing, selling or leasing billion dollar assets... They are and have been for decades in better shape than even Switzerland.
44 posted on 10/28/2005 6:44:50 AM PDT by Leisler
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To: dynoman
The real question in my mind is why are no new refineries being built to average out the sharp variations in the supply situation?

Perhaps because of Dubya's obsession with diverting capital investment to China.
In turn, the increased Chinese demand for oil helps keep our gas prices propped up.

Snow's Beijing Cave-In Leaves China Policy Critics No Choice But to Fight White House

45 posted on 10/28/2005 6:46:06 AM PDT by Willie Green (Go Pat Go!!!)
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To: NVD
Then deal with the companies that aren't, to you, price gouging. You're an adult, you can handle it.
46 posted on 10/28/2005 6:47:55 AM PDT by Leisler
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To: Leisler
They are and have been for decades in better shape than even Switzerland.

good for them...this is why I am and will always be an investor in enery stocks.....

47 posted on 10/28/2005 6:48:04 AM PDT by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: cbkaty
good for them...this is why I am and will always be an investor in enery stocks.....

Hmmm...enery? I'm enery the 8th I am....enery the 8th I am I am...well not really...just need to spell check...ENERGY!

48 posted on 10/28/2005 6:49:54 AM PDT by cbkaty (I may not always post...but I am always here......)
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To: cynicom
Exxon/Mobile is not my offspring.

Exxon led the price decreases in my area. Undercut everyone including the indpendents.

49 posted on 10/28/2005 6:51:30 AM PDT by palmer (Money problems do not come from a lack of money, but from living an excessive, unrealistic lifestyle)
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To: marktwain
No matter what the MSM is saying, how can one say what we see is a good example of true hands off capitalism? If it were where is the competition? Why no new refineries? There are a reasons - like environmental regulations - that have morphed the oil industry away from true hands off capitalsim into something else but capitalism still gets the blame.
50 posted on 10/28/2005 6:52:21 AM PDT by dynoman (Objectivity is the essence of intelligence. - Marylin vos Savant)
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