According to the often stated (at least in this blog) Scott Adams Theory of Predictable Disasters, this would be an excellent time to buy stock in BP. Yes, yes, you’d vomit in your own mouth when you executed the trade, but follow me on this argument.
The financial wonks will tell you that the cost of the clean up and settlements are “already baked into the stock price.” That’s probably true(ish). Still, no one can really predict how much this thing will cost BP in the end. The stock could still go much lower. And I remind you as always, don’t take your financial advice from cartoonists.
My first argument in favor of buying BP stock is that managers caused this problem, whereas engineers are solving it. That’s a positive sign. Managers apparently had the choice of including remote shut-off technology in the project, but I’m assuming they decided that it cost too much, or would take too long, or they had some other managerish reason. So far, managers have acted exactly as you would expect managers to act.
Now it’s the turn of engineers to fix this problem. I assume there are relatively few budget constraints on engineers as they concoct their plans. And I assume everyone at BP agrees what their highest priority is, for a change. In other words, there won’t be as much manager interference as normal. And I assume some of the best engineers in the solar system are working on this. So what we have here is a pure case of brains against oil spill. It’s the Manhattan Project for natural disasters.
The Scott Adams Theory of Predictable Disasters states that any catastrophe that society at large can predict far in advance won’t happen, usually because scientists and engineers figure a way to head it off. So while an oil spill of this size wasn’t predicted by the general public, the slow motion ecological disaster from this point forward is predictable. Admittedly, this is a grey area for the theory because this particular disaster is happening on a relatively fast schedule. It will be a good test of the robustness of the Scott Adams Theory of Predictable Disasters.
I don’t want to make light of the disaster. It’s plenty bad. And I will stipulate that the engineers and scientists have a lot of explaining to do in terms how we got here and why the initial attempts to stop the leak haven’t worked. And maybe there should have been a tad more whistle-blowing. But here we are.
Disclosure: To make things interesting, I just bought a small amount of BP stock with my gambling money. I’ll sell the stock on the day I hear that engineers capped the leak and the new technology for cleaning oil spills is working better than most people expected.
In other words, I’m betting on the engineers and scientists.