Sunday, July 5, 2009

Just how big and influential are the oil companies? Gas is a tax.

Just how big and influential are the oil companies? Looking the 2009 Forbes Top 2000 companies, it is considerable.

(Scroll down. Unfortunately, Blogspot doesn't handle HTML tables very well.)

Within the



As Ranked By


3 (60%)

5 (100%)


2 (40%)

3 (60%)


4 (67%)

6 (100%)


2 (33%)

3 (50%)


6 (60%)

8 (80%)


3 (30%)

4 (40%)


8 (53%)

9 (60%)


5 (33%)

7 (47%)


8 (32%)

10 (40%)


7 (28%)


By profits, the Top 6 most profitable companies, are ALL (100%) oil companies!

In almost every category, a significant percentage of the largest companies in the world are oil companies. As for assets, the companies with the largest assets are banks, insurance and financial companies. Which makes sense. If all business, and consumers, put their cash into the bank, you would expect that the banks would have a larger cash balance than other non financial companies.

However, if we ignore these kinds of financial companies from the assets list, only General Electric (conglomerate), Deutsche Post (transportation), and Toyota (consumer durables), are larger than the largest oil companies by assets; Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands, and Gazprom in Russia. Again that makes sense. The big and complex assets required to build a car at Toyota, should be more significant than what is required to build oil wells and pipelines.

Which brings up the question, why are gasoline companies so big, no matter which way you look at it?

The current infrastructure is designed so that most everyone uses gas. How many vehicles can you buy that don’t use gasoline? There are starting to be substitutes, such as electric cars, or plug in hybrids, but they are still in really small numbers.

Applying economic theory to the question, gas is an inelastic good. If it goes up in price, we still buy it. Unlike elastic goods, which, if they goes up in price, we slow down our purchases of it. Or, buy more when they go on sale.

With sales, profits, and market value as large as this, do you think that the oil companies have some influence in politics? Or have made some contributions to politicians? Or have government lobbyists on the payroll?

Just how much do we pay for gasoline each week, month, year? See this quote from:
"In 1952, the average citizen paid the same amount in various gas and automobile taxes as he did in INCOME TAXES ! 'The American Motorist: No.1 Tax Sucker', Cornet, August 1952, pages 40 - 41."

While there is so much discussion about taxes, there is little about how much the consumer, and the USA spends on energy. In economic and political discussions, much is made about reducing taxes, and how raising taxes will stagnate the economy. But until gas prices began to rise in the seventies, and in 2008, there has been little discussion is made on how the cost of energy stagnates the economy. Clearly the higher cost of energy does stagnate the economy.
Gas is a Tax. And I'm NOT talking about government taxes on gas. I'm talking about the fact that we have to buy so much gas each day, week, month, year, because we don't have energy alternatives.

Imagine the economic benefits if we doubled, tripled, or quadrupled the efficiency of the use of energy; if the real cost of energy was only one half, or one third, or one quarter of what it currently is. Prices of goods would be cheaper, and consumers would have more of their wealth to spend on other things. Imagine how much wealthier all individuals, and the whole economy would be!

Never mind a tax cut. Just cut the real cost of energy by making machines multiples more efficient than they are now. The government stays out. People have more money to spend because they are spending less on energy, and spend their money.

How would that be for an economic multiplier?

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