Divestment Goes Full-Billy Madison

Guest ridiculing by David Middleton

This post employs Billy Madison as a euphemism.

Fossil fuel divestment is, by definition, Billy Madisoned. It is a concerted effort hold back or slow down fossil fuel production by cutting off access to capital. Fossil fuel divestment is “a really futile and stupid gesture”. An investment can only be divested if an investor is willing to invest in the divested interest.

Perhaps realizing that fossil fuel divestment is nothing but “a really futile and stupid gesture”, Alicia Seiger, a lecturer at Stanford Law School and an affiliate of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, has determined that divestment is not sufficient…

Mother Nature is Not Calling for Divestment

May 20, 2019 By Alicia Seiger
Related Organization(s): Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance

In honor of Earth Day, Harvard University students, faculty and alumni held rallies to pressure the university’s $39.2 billion endowment to divest from fossil-fuel related companies. Having scored what sounded like a victory five years ago, when Stanford University announced a coal divestment decision, Fossil Free Stanford is doubling down to demand the school’s $26 billion endowment sell oil and gas stocks. The divestment rallying cry has been echoing across the halls of elite universities, through US state legislatures (which govern state pension funds), and as far north as Norway, home to the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, for more than half a decade. While some calls appear to have been answered, the response won’t move the climate needle far enough or fast enough and meanwhile, pensions and endowments remain woefully underprepared to weather climate change.

The divestment movement has been helpful in drawing attention to the impact of climate change on investment portfolios and increasing the stigma around fossil fuel companies. It was also well-timed. Less than two years after Bill McKibben first ignited calls for endowments to go ‘fossil-free’…


Stanford Law School Blogs

Let’s pause right there. Do these buffoons have any idea how Billy Madisoned the phrase “fossil-free” is? Or how Billy Madisoned it is to take credit for a “a disastrous five-year run” for oil & gas stocks due to the collapse in oil prices in late 2014? It’s particularly Billy Madisoned because she even cites the real reason for low oil prices…


The US shale boom had much more to do with driving asset values down than carbon math, but lower prices forced portfolio managers to reconsider what had long been their highest performing asset class.


Stanford Law School Blogs

Apparently, just being Billy Madisoned wasn’t good enough…


[W]hile investors tinker around the margins and activists claim victories, mother nature is sounding a deafening alarm. Fueled by climate change, extreme weather has been decimating economic value across the world. In the past two years alone, global financial losses from hurricanes, droughts, wildfires and other natural disasters amounted to roughly $500 billion. The scale and scope of climate impacts on investment portfolios demand investment and legislative policies more ambitious and effective than divestment. Mother nature is not calling for a Tylenol, she’s demanding interventions that address the root causes of her fever.


Stanford Law School Blogs

The source she cites for the $500 billion claim…

According to preliminary sigma estimates, total economic losses from natural and man-made catastrophes in 2018 declined to USD 155 billion from USD 350 billion in 2017. Global insured losses are estimated to be around USD 79 billion, higher than the annual average of the previous 10 years. There have been a number of smaller and mid-sized loss-generating disaster events across all regions this year, also affecting regions with well-established insurance cover. Together, these have made 2018 the fourth costliest year on sigma records in terms of losses covered by the insurance industry. Globally, more than 11 000 people have died or gone missing in disaster events in 2018, similar to the number of victims in 2017.

Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters are estimated to be USD 155 billion in 2018. Natural catastrophes caused USD 146 billion of the losses, and man-made disasters USD 9 billion. Of the total economic losses, USD 79 billion have been covered by insurance, down from USD 150 billion in 2017, but more than the previous 10-year annual average (USD 71 billion). Natural catastrophes accounted for USD 71 billion of this year’s insured losses, and man-made disasters for the remaining USD 8 billion. This year is projected to be the fourth most expensive year on sigma records for insurance. More than 11 000 people have died or gone missing in catastrophe events in 2018. The earthquake in Sulawesi, Indonesia in September had the highest human toll of the year, with over 3 500 estimated dead or missing.


Swiss Re Group

My first thought was that $155 billion is less than half of $350 billion.

My second thought was that natural disasters aren’t all weather-related.

My third thought was that not all weather-related disasters are due to the mild warming Earth has experienced since the coldest climatic episode of the Holocene Epoch, the Little Ice Age.

Little Ice Age bad!

My fourth thought was that we had bad storms before Col. Edwin Drake drilled America’s first oil well… Technically, it wasn’t America’s oil well. It belonged to the people who paid for its drilling.

Major New England hurricanes (some worse than Sandy) and sea surface temperatures back to 1000 AD.

My fifth thought was that if a warmer Atlantic Ocean caused bad weather, the Medieval Warm Period would have been really bad and the Roman & Minoan Warm Periods must have been veritable schist storms…

Major New England hurricanes and sea surface temperatures back to 1200 BC.

My sixth thought was that a total elimination of fossils (fossil-free) is impossible.

My seventh thought was that a total elimination of fossil fuels wouldn’t fix the weather any time soon (if ever) and it would kill half of the human population rather quickly.

“Trends in human population and nitrogen use throughout the twentieth century. Of the total world population (solid line), an estimate is made of the number of people that could be sustained without reactive nitrogen from the Haber–Bosch process (long dashed line), also expressed as a percentage of the global population (short dashed line). The recorded increase in average fertilizer use per hectare of agricultural land (blue symbols) and the increase in per capita meat production (green symbols) is also shown.” Erisman et al., 2008

My eighth thought was that the proposed solutions for fixing the weather will cost a lot more than what weather-related disasters are likely ever to cost in the future… And none of the solutions will fix the weather.

My ninth thought was that even if anthropogenic climate change was a contributing factor to the $500 billion, that’s chump change compared to the cost of just about everything else. In arguendo let’s accept the latest National Climate Assessment’s claim that “extreme weather events and natural disasters caused $91 billion in damages in 2018.” Not all of these costs were to businesses, but we’ll run with that number. What else takes bites out of businesses?

  1. March Madness $13.3 billion
  2. Shoplifting $44 billion
  3. Absenteeism $84 billion
  4. Weather <$91 billion
  5. Surfing the Internet $200 billion
  6. Regulatory compliance $1,900 billion
  7. Federal taxes $3,594 billion

Federal taxes include personal income taxes, Social Security taxes, corporate income taxes, excise taxes and estate taxes because, ultimately, it’s businesses that generate the revenue, enabling the taxation.

The IPCC calculated that it will cost $122 trillion to avoid 1.5 °C of warming relative to the alleged pre-industrial average. The average annual cost through 2050 would be $800 to $2,900 billion…

IPCC Demands $122 Trillion to Fight the Global War on Weather

And there isn’t one shred of evidence that a $122 trillion Global War on Weather will have any effect on the weather.

“Paris climate promises will reduce temperatures by just 0.05°C in 2100” (Bjorn Lomborg)

If all of this wasn’t good enough, we haven’t even gotten to the full-Billy Madison bit yet…

First, asset owners should immediately carve out a climate solutions allocation, staff it with a dedicated team empowered to source deals across all asset classes, and give them an absolute return benchmark. A dedicated allocation will help put climate-friendly investments on a level playing field with more traditional assets and serve to drive a portfolio’s overall sustainability. This type of proactive approach will also be critical in achieving the tripling of low-carbon investment experts indicate is required to achieve the ambition of the Paris Agreement.

Next, and this is the big one, investors must establish a process through which all buy, hold or sell decisions are sustainable by 2030, where “sustainable” is defined as being consistent with a 2-degree Celsius or lower warming scenario. The reason for this is not altruism, nor is it a bet on a policy response. This step is about risk management. Markets are not fully pricing climate risk, due in part to incomplete data and inertia. As a result, investors own mispriced assets.


Finally, and this cannot be said enough, mother nature has canceled business-as-usual. Investors must recognize that they are taking a bet on climate whether they act or not.

Stanford Law School Blogs

Not just “no”… But NO FRACKING WAY! I make investment decisions based on obtaining the best return on capital over a timeline that is meaningful to me… I’m not making bets on anything that may or may not happen 80 to 200 years in the future. Nor would I ever trust a dime of my money to someone who would invest on the basis of what they think the weather will be like 80 to 200 years in the future and would intentionally p!$$ some of my money away on carving “out a climate solutions allocation” and staffing it with people who can’t find real jobs because they majored in sciencey-sounding liberal arts subjects.

And then, full Billy Madison went full circle…

“Fossil free” signs often generate a visceral reaction from those on the receiving end. The most disappointing responses are ones that misunderstand the message as demanding “social change” or as “a means to achieve policy ends.”

Stanford Law School Blogs

The phrase “fossil-free” earns Ms. Seiger eleventy gazillion Billy Madison’s

“’Fossil free’ signs” should draw “a visceral reaction” from everyone who has a real job, because the “fossil free” crowd is nothing more than a bunch of egg-head miscreants, incapable of holding real jobs, “demanding ‘social change’” as “a means to achieve policy ends,” namely global socialism.

“This is probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history”, Ms Figueres stated at a press conference in Brussels.

“This is the first time in the history of mankind that we are setting ourselves the task of intentionally, within a defined period of time to change the economic development model that has been reigning for at least 150 years, since the industrial revolution. That will not happen overnight and it will not happen at a single conference on climate change, be it COP 15, 21, 40 – you choose the number. It just does not occur like that. It is a process, because of the depth of the transformation.”


You people need to get real jobs and stop annoying the productive segment of society.


Alley, Richard. B. (2000). “The Younger Dryas cold interval as viewed from central Greenland”. Quaternary Science Reviews. 19. 213-226. 10.1016/S0277-3791(99)00062-1.

Davis, Tamra, director. Billy Madison. Universal Pictures, 1995.

Donnelly, Jeffrey P.; et al. (2001). “700 yr Sedimentary Record of Intense Hurricane Landfalls in Southern New England”. Geological Society of America Bulletin 113 (6): 714–727.

Erisman, J. W., Sutton, M. A., Galloway, J., Klimont, Z. & Winiwarter, W. “How a century of ammonia synthesis changed the world”. Nat. Geosci.1,636–639 (2008)

Keigwin, L. D. (1996). “The Little Ice Age and Medieval Warm Period in the Sargasso Sea”. Science (New York, N.Y.). 274. 1504-8. 10.1126/science.274.5292.1504.

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Larry in Texas
May 31, 2019 2:59 pm

As a retired lawyer, one who occasionally lectured colleagues (in a continuing education environment) where I practiced law, I can say this: NEVER, NEVER, EVER trust anything that comes out of the mouth of a nutty law professor (or law lecturer) on the subject of climate, climate change, natural disasters, or anything else related to the above-mentioned subjects. They are a waste of your precious time – and money. They have more vested interests than you can shake a stick at.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Larry in Texas
May 31, 2019 4:43 pm

I can shake a mighty big stick, but I concede the point.
None of these people are susceptible to persuasion, ever.
They are either fanatics, liars, or echo-chamber deluded zombies.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
May 31, 2019 5:38 pm

When people are divesting for reasons other than quality/value, I’m ready to pick up whatever they have sold. So are many other investors more interested in returns than other goals. In the end, good investors will have all the capital. The do-gooders will, alas, be poor.

Bryan A
Reply to  Adam
June 1, 2019 9:19 am

And AOC and her GND Possi will thank them heavily for amassing a vast quantity of wealth for her to redistribute to those who don’t want to work. (Her friends for swag purchases)

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Larry in Texas
May 31, 2019 8:58 pm

“The nutty Ms Alicia holds an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where she also worked as a case writer for the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, and a BA in Environmental Policy and Cultural Anthropology from Duke University. “

Not a lawyer. Just someone who offers nutty greentard lectures to future lawyers. And she serves on the board of Ceres.org, which is GreenSlime Central. She’s never had a real job. Probably not even as a mother. Probably the cute nanny is raising her kids.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
June 1, 2019 4:18 am

An illegal mexican nanny , for sure.

The video sums it up nicely: I award you zero points and may God have merci on your sole.

Reply to  Larry in Texas
June 1, 2019 8:24 am

A very good article, thank you David Middleton.

Every day, a warmist makes a statement that is so utterly stupid that it sucks all the light out of the universe – the ultimate “black hole” of stupidity.

In Canada, the Heart of Darkness is Ottawa, where Trudeau Fils and Climate Barbie are a cornucopia of false climate catastrophe. Their campaign slogan is “Vote for us or you’re all gonna burn in hell!”

Surprisingly, it works – half the population are below-average intelligence, and about 30% are congenital idiots – they actually believe this nonsense. That is how socialist disasters like Venezuela happen. Canada has departed down that dark road – we are Canazuela!

Here was my response to one such imbecilic warming-alarmist article last year – a “full Billy Madison”:


I enjoy the 10 seconds of humour these articles provide. Thank you Phil – really!

“Caution!!! Exposure for more than ten seconds runs the risk of serious brain-damage.”

Phil’s article is reminiscent of this scene from “Billy Madison”:

“Mr. Madison, what you just said is the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone is this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”


Best, Allan 🙂

Zig Zag Wanderer
May 31, 2019 3:34 pm

I cannot help but wonder if the collapse Roman Empire looked the same from within as the current insane Carbon Derangement Syndrome looks.

Tom Abbott
May 31, 2019 3:38 pm

From the article: “While investors tinker around the margins and activists claim victories, mother nature is sounding a deafening alarm. Fueled by climate change, extreme weather has been decimating economic value across the world.”

There is no evidence that “climate change” (CAGW) is fueling extreme weather. The weather is no more extreme today than in the past. No connection has been shown between CO2 and how the weather behaves. Claiming it does just shows Alicia Seiger’s ignorace of the facts.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  David Middleton
May 31, 2019 4:44 pm

*laughs until milk pours out of nose*

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 31, 2019 5:09 pm

I am nearing 67, but still vividly recall a first-grade classmate passing milk and carrots through his nose while laughing.

D. Anderson
May 31, 2019 4:16 pm

How does boycotting stock in the secondary market cut off access to capital?

Reply to  D. Anderson
June 1, 2019 6:20 am

Yep. They got their capital when they sold the stock. Who owns it now is of little concern to them.

Note that the sacrament of divesting involves *selling* the stock to someone else, not destroying it or giving it away.

James Clarke
Reply to  Gamecock
June 1, 2019 3:01 pm

And because they are divesting potentially large amounts of the stock, they will be driving the stock price down for non-economic reasons. The stocks become a a bargain for any savvy investor wishing to make a fast and significant profit. The funds and institutions that do this will be poorer, while the non-stupid rich will get richer, with no impact on climate either way.

John Endicott
Reply to  Gamecock
June 3, 2019 9:21 am

Yep. They got their capital when they sold the stock. Who owns it now is of little concern to them

And the only way “who owns it now” would be a concern is in the case of some entity (actual person or corporation) manages to buy up a controlling interest. The amount of concern those who are *Selling* their shares are to them would be


John Endicott
Reply to  John Endicott
June 3, 2019 10:07 am

Sorry last link should have been

I didn’t notice bing didn’t take be directly to youtube, but instead to a big page displaying the youtube video when I did my cut and paste.

May 31, 2019 4:16 pm

More propaganda served up by useful idiots that don’t realize they’re the carriers

michael hart
May 31, 2019 4:22 pm

“While some calls appear to have been answered, the response won’t move the climate needle far enough or fast enough and meanwhile, pensions and endowments remain woefully underprepared to weather climate change.”

She needs to pull the climate needle out of the main vein supplying her brain. Climate change, by definition, is so slow that it is probably the easiest thing for pensions and endowment investors to cope with.

What is transparently obvious to most people is that such authors are really targeting such investors largely because of the enormous amounts of MONEY they control. She probably has every intention of being one of the people required as part of the solution “staffed with a dedicated team empowered to source deals across all asset classes”…
…Perhaps not as one of the investment professionals per se (which might be hard work), just someone acting as an adviser, someone who thus receives large cash injections administered by the climate needle.

Nicholas McGinley
May 31, 2019 4:41 pm

Trying to use logic and rationality and factual argumentation on warmistas is like trying to get my cats to take a shower.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
May 31, 2019 9:03 pm

There’s no point arguing facts with people that are so eager to change the facts to suit their agenda.

Reply to  Hivemind
June 1, 2019 4:46 am

They shouldn’t divest. That amounts to making money on fossil fuel securities. Shameful. They should simply burn the securities, or shred them using wind turbine generated electricity.

May 31, 2019 5:03 pm

It’s important to remember that the push for divestment has an alternative motive. While people in Government or University will often call for costly and inefficient programs that are payed for with OPM, they rarely do anything that would cost themselves. As long as their own pension plans are heavily invested in fossil fuels, they are less likely to vote for thing that would seriously damage those investments.

But if you get those investments removed, then those people would be much more likely to go along with programs that are damaging to them. Because Leftist simply don’t care when their virtue signaling hurts OTHERS.


John Endicott
Reply to  Schitzree
June 3, 2019 9:26 am

Most leftists aren’t savy enough to see the connection between their virtual signaling and value of what’s in the investment portfolio of their academic institution, pension program, 401K, or other investments that they might be tangentially involved in. They probably don’t even know what stocks those investment portfolios contain. They’re just virtue signally what they don’t want them to contain because it makes it look like they “care” and are “doing something”.

Kevin kilty
May 31, 2019 5:06 pm

These academic and NGO freeloaders are quite a bit like Mao’s Red Guard, aren’t they?

I spent 23 years in industry and then the past 19 in academia. I had hoped to retire this May, but got talked into one more year as a mechanical engineering professor. I have enjoyed my colleagues in the two universities and several colleges where I taught, but lately I have found them to be tiresome. I am stunned at their acceptance, nay enthusiasm for the current Democratic party insanity swirling around us, but more tired of the inability of even bright and well educated folks to think two steps ahead when it comes to political belief systems. Magical thinking is spreading widely and rapidly.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 1, 2019 1:12 am

What is going on with people? I feel the same way.

I think it has to be Twitter. Most of these people are in twitter bubbles where they cannot see anything other than the inside of the bubble. It leads to radicalization and balkanization because the bubbles begin to purity spiral. I have seen it over and over again – but only in left wing circles.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  xenomoly
June 1, 2019 5:42 am

“What is going on with people?”

Too much propaganda.

People are inundated daily with Loony Leftwing propaganda, and unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the Western world who are unable to sort out the wheat from the chaff.

The Left has had this huge advantage for many years, but since Trump, their ability to frame the narative has been hampered, although it is still out there and influencing people negatively.

The truth is not in the Leftwing Media and their lies are agitating a lot of people on both sides of the political spectrum, one side, the Left believing the lies, and the other side, the Right, detesting the lies and the people telling them.

Democratic governments cannot govern themselves properly based on lies and distortions of reality and that is all we get out of the Leftwing Media. They and their lies are a great danger to our personal freedoms. Don’t take anything they say at face value.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Kevin kilty
June 1, 2019 5:24 am


Your Red Guard comment inspires me to point out that this is not the first time a deliberate plan to change the economic system has been made (and executed). Think of the October 17 revolution in Russia. Wasn’t that exactly what Ms Figueres is calling for?

That turned out well, didn’t it? Well…not so much for the people and the environment…but for the ideologues it was great, until the day they were hauled off because “Stalin needed their deaths” for propaganda purposes.

I guess we are supposed to hope that “this time” they will get it right and not kill so many millions of people.

John Endicott
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
June 3, 2019 9:28 am

I guess we are supposed to hope that “this time” they will get it right and not kill so many millions of people.

Yeah, good luck with that considering that many of those calling for the current “revolution” also believe that the world population needs to be reduced to below 1 billion.

May 31, 2019 5:25 pm

Looking at the Greenland temperature reconstruction, I mark three times the temperature topped the +2° anomaly. Over 3,000 ybp, around 7,000 ybp, and around 8,000 ybp.
So, where is the evidence of global catastrophe?

Reply to  LarryD
June 1, 2019 8:23 am

Shhhh. You weren’t supposed to notice that, LarryD. #$@! pesky facts.

May 31, 2019 5:34 pm

These universities are looking to occupy some moral high ground. Currently Harvard has 39 BILLION and Stanford has 26 BILLION invested? The top 100 universities should divest and pay off the nation’s outstanding student loans. It’s the right thing to do.

Reply to  Tommyboy
June 1, 2019 4:59 am

Apparently, if they offered free education to all their students – which they can afford to do in perpetuity, the students wouldn’t value their education as much as when it costs them a bazillion dollars.

So, entirely for the benefit of the students, fees are colossal and will always keep rising. And we let people who think this way make decisions for all of society?

michael hart
Reply to  UBrexitUPay4it
June 2, 2019 12:04 am

Like “quantitative easing” in the financial world, Universities can print an infinite number of Degrees for effectively zero marginal cost.

The practical consequences of inflation are the same in both worlds. At one university department I recall hearing that some students had complained that they must necessarily also be given high grades as a right, whether merited or not. I think the argument was that the university was denying them equal educational and career opportunities by giving grades which were less than maximal.

Steve O
May 31, 2019 6:04 pm

If enough people were to divest, the prices of the various securities could theoretically be reduced. However, to whatever extent activists were successful in reducing the value of the securities, they would raise the yields by a corresponding amount.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Steve O
June 1, 2019 5:31 am

Steve O

This was my thought too. It increases the return to anyone who buys the politically-motivated reduction in cost.

Reducing the cost of a stock doesn’t reduce the value. I am not sure the divestors understand how investments work. If oil stocks return a higher dividend, the company owners (shareholders) can afford to make greater investments in exploration. Seems like a win-win if you ask me.

Get rid of troublesome investors and give more return to those interested in the business. What’s not to like?

May 31, 2019 6:18 pm

Re. Zig Zag of May 31, Regarding “The collapse of the Roman Empire”.

There are two versions, Gibonss , “”Decline and fall of the Roman Empire” where he appears to blame the growing influence of Christianity”

Or in my opinion the simple fact that during the 600 years of the Roams era, the climate was overall quite mild. Then it changed and got colder.

So where was the CO2 coming from ?


Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  Michael
June 1, 2019 1:57 am

There’s a recent book which tells a different story. Well worth a read.


The cooling climate in 4th and 5th century must have played a role because crop failures in central Asia pushed the populations westwards, since in the east the Chinese had built a wall. Attilla the Hun, remember him. It put unbearable pressure on the northern borders of the empire and forced the recall of the garrisons in Britain for reenforcement. It didn’t help in the long run the whole thing became unstable and then, like all systems pushed into instability, suddenly collapsed.

Grumpy Bill
May 31, 2019 6:26 pm

“My fourth thought was that we had bad storms before Col. Edwin Drake drilled America’s first oil well… Technically, it wasn’t America’s oil well. It belonged to the people who paid for its drilling.”

Technically Col. Drake didn’t drill the first oil. He paid for it, but “Uncle Billy” Smith built the tools and supervised the drilling.

May 31, 2019 6:31 pm

There is a reason Warren Buffett is considered the most successful investor in modern history. He invested $10 billion in Occidental Petroleum recently to enable it buy Andarko Petroleum.

May 31, 2019 6:37 pm

If they are really serious Harvard and it’s ilk should get off the grid and run 100% renewables.

From now on, when I see this nonsense on social media I am going to call them out and ask them to divest themselves from fossil fuel.

Good luck Harvard

May 31, 2019 6:39 pm

Warren Buffet, one of the greatest investors ever, just invested $10 billion in Occidental Petroleum to enable it to buy Andarko Petroleum. Who are you going to follow: a brain dead lecturer or Buffett.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Mohatdebos
May 31, 2019 8:42 pm

What Buffett did was not exactly like investing in the company.
He lent them money, at a steep rate of interest.
And the shares of OXY have been getting clobbered ever since, because OXY is widely believed to have drastically overpaid for APC.
Shareholders of OXY are getting hammered but W.B. will do just fine.
It reminds me of when he lent a whole pile of money to GE, right before GE tanked and became nearly worthless.
It has never really recovered.
W. B. did great on that deal too: He made the loan at 10% IIRC, and got options and some other value out of it.
OXY right now is at a multi year low. The dividend yield as of todays further hemorrhaging is above 6%, but this may well be a value trap…they may have to slash their dividend. In fact, anytime outsized dividends are being paid on a large company with widely held shares, one must be very wary. There is a reason large value investors are not snapping up the stock even is yields go above 6%.
A loan is not exactly like investing in a company via bonds, and it is nothing like owning shares of stock.
Loans get paid first in the event of bankruptcy or reorganization, then bold holders (in some certain sort of order in cases with different classes of bonds having been issued), and lastly equity holders.
In fact, people holding stock (like you and me) often wind up losing every penny, while other may be made whole.
People like Warren Buffett.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Mohatdebos
May 31, 2019 8:56 pm

In fact, the deal OXY made is so bad that legendary activist investor and corporate raider Carl Icahn announced yesterday he is suing to put a halt to the deal. He holds $1.6 billion worth of shares, although I am not sure if that was now or before the stock dropped from $80 to below $50 on the heals of this wonderful deal.
I sure hope Carl is successful.
I bought in when the stock was around the Christmas low point of $56, as my technical analysis indicated a low chance of it falling much. I did not realize how badly this deal is being regarded by the investment community.
Many people think (I belated discovered), that the inexperienced OXY CEO got her tushy handed to her by old Warren.
Part of the financing for the buyout involves OXY selling APC’s Africa assets to Total SA for 8.8 billion, which may be another awful deal, being sold too cheaply. One typically needs to offer a great price to someone to get them to make a huge purchase because YOU asked THEM.
It is often the case that this sort of deal occurs at market tops, and the buyer’s shareholders are badly damaged and sometimes wiped out.
With oil prices falling sharply over the past few days and the decline accelerating, it could be a wore case scenario.
May be best to dump OXY and not try to wait for a recovery in the share price. Although if Icahn is successful, the shares may recover, it seems more likely what will happen is that Carl will get to install some board members to try to manage the aftermath of the merger.

May 31, 2019 6:48 pm

“and staffing it with people who can’t find real jobs because they majored in sciencey-sounding liberal arts subjects.”

I grew up watching Walter Cronkite on CBS news. I was a loyal follower of him and then Dan Rather until one evening news segment during Reagan’s first term, I believe during a time leading up to his second election. The story covered a new college graduate in Florida, a female, who Reagan’s crap economy could not provide with a job. It was Reagan’s fault according to Dan and CBS news, not the fact that the woman had spent 4 years getting a “basket weaving” degree of some sort, a degree totally worthless to a capitalist society at that time.

As you all know, the economy was humming be then. They could not attack Reagan’s results with facts, so that touchy-feely story was created to malign Reagan. So familiar to today’s MSM Trump “news”

I have not watched the CBS news since that day. In reality from that time I rarely watched any news programs due to the liberal slant until the local cable company started providing FOX news around the Newt Gingrich Contract With America election.

As a side note, the Democrat party has been implementing liberal full employment policies for years. So now we have diversity training, gender and harassment training, etc. and other programs to employ the useless, non-productive sacks of skin.

Hopefully TRUMP! will attack this crap in his second term. Then Mike Pence, although I am afraid he will be the second coming of Bush 1, but I hope not.

May 31, 2019 7:29 pm

Here in Australia we had back in the 1980 tees a Treassurer in the Labour Government, one Paul Keating. . He was and still is a highly intelligent man. and went on to become a PM in his own right.

One of his sayings was “The recession we had to have”” This was following a downturn
in the economy under his watch, and the Media made a lot of it, against him.

But what I think he meant was that its takes a major downturn to bring people
back to their sensus, get rid of the useless and unnecessary persons in usually
government of academe land.

Its sad but I think that it is true, back to basics is needed from time to time.

You could also say that a occasional war does the same thing, but with
nuclear bombs in the arsenal that might not be such a good way of getting rid
of the rubbish in society.



May 31, 2019 8:55 pm

Divesting from a stock would be totally useless….it would just temporarily drive down the stock price…and not by much. Ie Exxon has a market cap around 300 billion. So let say Harvard had a billion in Xom and sold it. That would drive xom about a 25 cents cheaper from a current price around 70. Creates a buying opportunity. That billion would be made up in a few days or a few hours.

Nicholas McGinley
Reply to  Jamie
May 31, 2019 9:29 pm

It depends how it is sold.
If it is sold quietly over time without any sort of announcements and at a rate that the daily amount of shares trading hands could easily accommodate, there might not be any drop.
If they try to sell it as a block, it could have a large effect on the share price.
There is no way to say selling a billion dollars worth of stock X will drop the share price by Y dollars.
Under certain conditions, someone selling large blocks of stock can trigger a stampede for the exits by other investors and the price could drop hugely.
The price of all stocks is based on what a buyer will pay. Nothing else.
This is the reason shares can drop 25% across the whole market, and two months later gain it all back and then some.

Reply to  Nicholas McGinley
June 1, 2019 6:09 am

This is pretty much what happens every day in the stock market. You have big orders of buying and selling. It doesn’t move the stock price to that much…perhaps a 1/2 percent per day on average. The big falls and big gainers are when there are no buyers or sellers. The price will change drastically then because the only buyers or sellers are the shorts and puts.

Joel O'Bryan
May 31, 2019 9:31 pm

The author of “the Black Swan” Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined an acronym-name for people like Ms Alicia Seiger: IYI, intellectual yet idiot.

Ms Seiger is in everyway the kind of academic busybody, know-everything, yet understands nothing that Nassim Taleb had in mind when he wrote about IYI’s in .

IYI defined: The IYI thinks people should act according to their best interests and she/he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to her/him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. (Hillary called them “Deplorables” to laughter in the room when she said it.) What we generally call participation in the political process, she/he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences. While rich people believe in one tax dollar one vote.

The IYI subscribes to The New Yorker. She/He never curses on twitter. She/He speaks of “equality of outcome,” “equal pay for equal work,” and “income equality” but never went out drinking with her house-keeper.

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
May 31, 2019 10:19 pm

something got lost:

Nassim Taleb had in mind when he wrote about IYI’s in Skin in the Game.

Flight Level
May 31, 2019 9:58 pm

Last time I’ve checked, all airliners feed on kerosene and no brand has a serious project to ever change this part of the “owner’s manual” in any foreseeable future….

Rather upsetting news for the planeloads of climate summit delegates and other green junkets attendees.

Coeur de Lion
May 31, 2019 10:08 pm

I have been in discussion with the Bishop of Salisbury about the Synod of the Church of England decision to ‘disinvest ‘ in fossil fuels, making many of the points above, plus the damage to the pensions of the threadbare retired priesthood. And came up against a wall of impenetrable stupidity and a belief in the IPCC ‘s SR1.5 quoted above. ‘A decarbonised future’. Of course the C of E is riddled with Marxism these days but their lack of scientific understanding is disgraceful. I sent His Grace my usual photo of a Hmong tribal boy cooking lunch in his hut on twigs and dung for him to pin up in his office. But the CofE with David Attenborough and the Pope are neglectful of the world’s poor.

June 1, 2019 1:05 am

This whole thing still just strikes me as an elaborate scam to convince people to drastically limit economic development everywhere but China. One really has to wonder why the climate crazies are not jumping all over China for their 1500 or so coal fired power plants – but they want to micromanage your stock portfolio to ensure “sustainability” dictates a position on an asset?!?!?! Yeah – I am going to hold bags so that “sustainable” companies stock prices don’t tank on poor earnings.

Its either a giant hoax, a secular religion, a minor problem that will not really change the life experience of anyone, or the end of the world in 12 years.

I don’t think the last option is likely.

Reply to  xenomoly
June 2, 2019 11:51 am

…the end of the world in 12 years.”

10 years, 6 months, 29 days, 11 hours, 10 minutes and 19 seconds, per the World Wide Web (there are multiple webpages that will return an answer to the question, “How long ’til 1 Jan 2030?”, I just picked the first one in the search results queue).

June 1, 2019 3:50 am

The religious faiths based on the pre Hebrew belief system all have the
same basic problem. A belief in “The Garden of Eden “.

That is their ideal , today’s materialistic world does not match up with
their vision of a perfect world.


Alan D. McIntire
Reply to  Michael
June 1, 2019 5:31 am

And “The Garden in Eden” wouldn’t be natural itself, being a garden. Before farmers made the place a “garden”, it would have been full of weeds, mosquitoes, etc.

Coeur de Lion
June 1, 2019 4:03 am

Further to. The timescale of SR1.5 and the need to stop using coal by 2030 is well within bond market span. But not a tremor. No big sell off . So no one believes it a toss.

Dudley Horscroft
June 1, 2019 4:15 am

Who was Billy Madison anyway, if anybody?

And why, if I click on “Notify me of follow-up comments by email” do I never get any follow -up?

Mark Broderick
Reply to  David Middleton
June 1, 2019 7:55 am

“It is a concerted effort (to) hold back or slow down fossil fuel production by cutting off access to capital.”

Love all your posts Dave….Unfortunately it takes 5 hours for my comments to show, so I don’t bother much anymore….

Jerry H Henson
June 1, 2019 1:43 pm

David, are you going to the Climate Conference?

Reply to  David Middleton
June 2, 2019 9:50 am

“It is a concerted effort (to) hold back or slow down fossil fuel production by cutting off access to capital.”

Love all your posts Dave….Unfortunately it takes 5 hours for my comments to show, so I don’t bother much anymore….

June 2, 2019 8:12 am

So, they include earthquakes in their list of natural disasters (“other”) that can be lessened somehow by divesting from fossil-fuel related companies? Words fail me.

June 2, 2019 8:53 pm

What is “Billy Madison” a euphemism for?

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