The stock market is the place to begin. Those in the financial community know that the real money is in buying low and selling high. Way back in April, 2003, just before the invasion of Iraq, shares of Exxon-Mobile, the largest oil company in the United States and second on the globe sold for a mere $33.44 per share. Last month the stock was trading at $64.33; an increase of around 91%. In April of 2003, Chevron was trading at about $34. Three years after the war began its stock has jumped 89% to an average of $64. But the all around best performer was Conoco Phillips, based in Houston, Texas. Conoco went from $24 a share one month before hostilities to a whopping $70.18 last month, an increase of nearly 188%. Though some of that increase was due to the companys marriage to Russian oil giant Yukoil, and the Kremlins support for the new, defacto oil monopoly in Russia.
As stock prices have increased for these corporate giants, their profits have skyrocketed as well. Last week officials from the above mentioned Exxon-Mobile reported that quarterly profits jumped a staggering 75% to almost $10 billion dollars. This profit was the highest in the companys history, passing the record set in the fourth quarter of 2004, a 32% improvement to $100 billion. These windfalls are attributed to the demand over the summer passing the supply, thus spiking prices in the short term.
Record oil prices, which topped $70 a barrel, pushed earnings as well.
Not to be outdone, ConocoPhillips, also mentioned in the above, said its third-quarter profits also rose 89% percent to a record $3.8 billion dollars.
Phil McPherson, director of research at investment bank C.K. Cooper and Company in Irvine, California says, The economics of oil are great right now, when oil process go up, its supposed to stop demand, but that hasnt happened.
Energy companies and energy profits are part of the going concern known as the War on Terror, arms manufacturers have done well for themselves as well. Prior to the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003, Boeing stock was stagnant at around $28.00 a share. On Tuesday, November 1st, it closed at $64.64 a share. Similarly, General Dynamics was holding at about $57 a share prior to the war. On Tuesday last it closed at $116.30.
Stock price increases and soaring energy profits are well and good for those who invest in the war on terror, but those who run these companies are doing pretty well for themselves. One example in the legions of others is David H. Brooks, chief executive officer of the company named after his own initials, DHB industries.
Brooks manufactures bullet- proof vests, a business that has boomed since September 11th, 2001. During the first year in the war on terror there was a tremendous shortage of armored vests, and manufacturers scrambled to fill the backlog of orders. As a result, DHB stock took off as Pentagon and private security contractor cash poured in. In the late 1990s DHB stock was valued at less than a dollar a share. In December 2004, it topped out at $22.53 a share. Brooks followed the first rule of the market manipulation and profiteering game and began to sell off shares between November 14 and December 29 of that year, even as the company denied that Brooks was selling off huge chunks of stock. The result was typical in that nervous investors began to sell off as well and the price per share began to tank. It toppled and then bottomed out around $6.50, butt he damage had been done to other investors. Brooks was only able to pocket around $186 million dollars.
However, DHB stock has since rebounded up to trade at $7 a share. Brooks received an additional $70 million dollars in compensation from salary, bonus, and options. During 2001, Brooks had earned just $525,00 from his company, so thats an increase of 13,349 percent!!! This places Brooks at the top of the defense contractor heap in terms of pay increase, earning him Alts very first Krupp Award, named after the arms manufacturing dynasty that brought you both World War I and II. Brooks has since placed a retired general on the board of DHB as a publicity ploy to placate investors, but they havent gotten back on the bandwagon yet.
In the first year of the war on terror, bullet- proof vests were hard to come by, and Brooks leaped into the breach to fill the gap. He took seemingly no known vacations, preferring to bill the company in the year of his profiteering for an additional $87,500 in uncollected time off. This at a time when G.I.s in Iraq were sweating additional combat tours as a result of stop loss orders.
Of course, some may argue that Brooks has an important job as a manufacturer of bullet-t proof vests. In May of this year, the United States Marine Corps recalled 5,277 of his so-called interceptor armored vests, after they failed to stop 9mm pistol rounds. Of course by this time Brooks had pocked over $250 million in war profits. No one knows if any Marines paid with their lives.
And speaking of Marines and their lives, on September 28th of this year, the Defense Acquisition Board of Pentagon fame quietly voted to put the legendary V-22 Osprey back into full production. Having cost a little over 16 billion dollars so far, the contract will now cost the taxpayer another 50 billion before it is over and done. The benefactors of this largess are of course, Boeing, and Textron, Inc., of Houston, who is also allied with Bell helicopter.
The Osprey is a fixed wing aircraft whose wings can tilt upward so the engines point up and the aircraft can take off and land like a helicopter. The plane has been plagued with problems since it first tried to flap its way skyward in 1986. Thirty people have died in four Osprey crashes since it first actually got off the ground in 1989. Even defense Secretary Dick Cheney tried to kill the funding, but congress kept its minimum cash flow alive. The MSRP for this hybrid is listed at $73 million dollars apiece. But the folks over at Global security claim its closer to $105 million. Just last month an Osprey on a routine flight to Edwards Air Force Base experienced a condensation stall and dropped from 18,000 feet and didnt recover until 10,000. It seems the Osprey isnt cleared for de-icing equipment. For those Marines forced into these unfriendly skies, lets it will be. By Grady Hawkins
As we go to print, the U.S. military has reached the tragic milestone of 2,025 soldiers killed in the Iraq war, with another 243 dead in Afghanistan, for a total of 2, 268 causalities in the so-called War on Terror.
With the number of wounded in the tens of thousands and no end in sight, the Powell doctrine has been shredded and chicken-hawk Neocons have sentenced the American military to a long slow death in the sands of the Middle East.