Saturday, June 5, 2010

Extracting Money from BP

1. When a company goes through bankruptcy, the court examines transactions the company made both before and after filing. Any transaction that the court judges as harmful to the "estate" of the company can be undone. The classic example is assets sold off to a friendly party at a token price, but the transaction doesn't have to be blatantly fraudulent to be voided. By that reasoning, transactions from BP's recent past, like the recent shareholder dividend, can be revisited and may be undone.

2. If you win a judgment against someone who can't afford to pay, you can garnish the person's wages and make them pay you over time. It should be a simple process to attach profits of a company under the same principle.

This is why I don't favor seizing the company. BP has the 5th highest profits in the world. When you seize a company, you only get its net assets, no future profits. When you attach profits, you have hooks into the company for years. The cleanup and recovery will take years, so this is appropriate. Injured parties stand to recover a lot more by garnishing profits over time than selling off assets in a bad economy.

1 comment:

  1. If we attach BP profits, why won't everyone just dump BP stock, driving their bond rating into the ground and make it impossible for them to operate?

    Along with that, we will have every other lobby pressing their weight to avoid penalties least they be held accountable.

    At this point, I think action must be swift, decisive and brutal. Fortunately, in general, those are not hallmarks of a democratic society. But, there needs to be the concept of "jailing a company."

    I am not really interested in future profits from BP. If profits are siphoned from BP, they will fold and their investors will move elsewhere. If the profits are not siphoned off quickly, they will litigate forever.

    I am far more interested in teaching a lesson to corporations. That people can react and react harshly to incompetence. Put aside accurate blame for the moment. If I screwed up at my job like they did, I, as an employee would suffer.

    They guys need to understand that they are essentially employees. They do not get that. They are on some "libertarian Ayn Rand fantasy I fucking rule the world because I am so smart" trip.

    BP cut corners on rig safety, and they now need to pay a price.

    But, do you honestly think BP is going to pay any serious profits out on this? Any more than Exxon did? It will only happen with some serious and fast action.

    Rather unlikely, I believe.

    So, we can expect a repeat. Insert text into while(1) {...}

    They'll walk. Assuming they haven't destroyed the planet.