Friday, October 31, 2008

$1865.69 Per Second

Today is Halloween, the day we celebrate things that are frightening. For instance, the news yesterday that Exxon Mobil had posted the largest quarterly profit in U.S. history - $14.83 billion dollars on revenue of $137.7 billion - at a time when the American economy is in the toilet and some people who actually have jobs can't get to them because they can't afford the gas to drive there. That's scary. I'll take the walking corpses and the vampires and gory axe murderers any day.

According to the article, Exxon Mobil earned $1865.69 per second in the past fiscal quarter. For comparison's sake, last year I earned approximately $0.006 per second...before taxes. And by modern American standards, I've got a pretty good job.

I am clearly in the wrong line of work.

Once again, I'm left wishing that I understood more about economics and finance so that I could understand how it is that a firm can earn so much money and still get various tax breaks and incentives, or justify such enormous profits when the rest of the economy is so badly wrecked. The cost of petroleum products is not responsible for the current crisis, of course, but it certainly doesn't help.

A university-trained economist, backed by reinforced battalions of lawyers, would patiently explain that I just don't understand the problems of the petroleum industry and the fundamental workings of the economy. He would shake his head in bemusement that I would be so silly as to compare my earnings per second to those of an enormous corporation. Well, that may be true. But I need some way to wrap my feeble brain around numbers this vast, which have such a huge impact on my life. I can't comprehend earnings of $137.7 billion, or the full scope of a $700 billion bank bailout. But I can understand $1865.69 compared to $0.006.

When you sit down to think about really scary things this Halloween, think about how much you earn per second in comparison to how much Exxon Mobil does.

And then fix yourself a drink to make it all seem better.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.

Bilbo

12 comments:

John said...

they must be the ones that coined the phrase "Time is money."

The Mistress of the Dark said...

thanks for depressing me this morning :(

KKTSews said...

I'm surprised you didn't also rant about the news about $40 billion (yes, with a "b") in compensation being owed to the executives of the banking industry that may somehow get paid out of the $700 billion bailout.
I do hear middle class backs breaking. While I realize many folks cannot afford to drive, the cynic in me realizes that others will whine that they now can't afford their 280-channel cable bill, unlimited texting plans, etc.
I sure wish I owned stock in Exxon so I might get a small trickle of this fountain of earnings.

Gilahi said...

And people (including me) just continue to take it. The only way that thieves like Exxon will ever change is when people stop demanding their product and displaying a willingness to pay any amount for it.

Amanda said...

I used to do that calculation when I was still working. It was extra depressing for us in Malaysia because of the currency.

lacegem said...

I'm sure Mobil executives are not the only ones that get paid very generously. I know for a fact that I will never be compensated what I'm really worth. I don't intend to get rich. I just want live comfortably & enjoy life's simple pleasures. For example I will be partying tonight! I'm excited about our Halloween Party. Are you going to be there tonight?

Bilbo said...

John - if time were money, I'd be even more broke than I am now, since I never seem to have enough time for anything...

Andrea - don't get depressed...get mad. It's more fun.

Katherine - I hadn't heard about the executive compensation part or I would have gone ballistic. And the cynical part of you agrees entirely with the cynical part of me.

Gilahi - well said. I wish I had an oxcart to drive so I could tell Exxon Mobil to shove it. Wonder what hay is going for this week?

Amanda - that's a good point. I remember an old Bill Cosby comedy routine in which he described paying for something in yen...he said you had to have "a small truckload of yen" (because the exchange rate was about a gazillion to one).

Lacegem - yes, I will be dancing tonight and ready to party. Be sure to save me a space or two on your dance card! Hope we'll be able to recognize each other...

Mike said...

I know an older retired guy that does not have any financal problems and is a diehard conservative. The other day he said that if Obama wins he will probably lose his house. And then he started talking about how the oil companies really aren't making as much money as we think they are.

I'm glad my version of normal is far removed from his.

fiona said...

One drink didn't work.
Half a bottle in and feeling a bit better...stagger

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The oil company is the place to be.

Melissa B. said...

It's like oil & water. Exxon's earnings & yours are totally unrelated...or so they'd like you to believe. Happy Halloween!

Twinkie said...

With a reality like that I'm afraid I'm gonna need more than one cocktail.