Monday, November 24, 2008

2008's Worst Corporations of the Year

The Multinational Monitor, in alphabetical order, lists the ten worst corporations in 2008. Only one is in finance. Here's a brief summary.

American International Group. Money for Nothing. "Why did AIG - primarily an insurance company powerhouse, with more than 100,000 employees around the world and $1 trillion in assets - require more than $100 billion ($100 billion!) in government funds? The company's traditional insurance business continues to go strong, but its gigantic exposure to the world of 'credit default swaps' left it teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Government officials then intervened, because they feared that an AIG bankruptcy would crash the world's financial system."

Cargill: Food Profiteers. "For Cargill, spiking [food] prices was an opportunity to get rich. In the second quarter of 2008, the company reported profits of more than $1 billion, with profits from continuing operations soaring 18 percent from the previous year. Cargill's 2007 profits totaled more than $2.3 billion, up more than a third from 2006."

Chevron: "We can't let little countries screw around with big companies." Ask Ecuador. Ask Burma.

Constellation Energy: Nuclear Operators. Constellation plans to build a $9.6 billion nuclear plant in Maryland, but government guaranteed loans makes sure that the risk of failure is assumed entirely by the public.

Chinese National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC): Fueling Violence in Darfur. China receives three quarters of Sudan's exports, and has undermined United Nations efforts to protect Darfur. The oil must flow! In July, Sudan President Al Bashir was charged by the International Criminal Court (ICC) with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur, aimed at removing the black population from Sudan. The ICC says 35,000 people have been killed and 2.7 million displaced.

Dole: The Sour Taste of Pineapple. Ordered to return plantations to rural Filipinos, "the workers received only nominal title. They were required to form labor cooperatives. Intended to give workers - now the new land owners - a means to collectively manage their land, the cooperatives were instead controlled by wealthy landlords."

GE: Creative Accounting. Internal GE documents appear to show the company has engaged in long-running effort to evade taxes in Brazil. That's a step up from 2007, when the charges were defense contractor fraud, labor rights abuses, toxic and radioactive pollution, manufacturing nuclear weaponry, workplace safety violations and media conflicts of interest (GE owns television network NBC).

Imperial Sugar: 13 Dead. A Georgia refinery explosion in February killed 13 people. "When [OSHA] inspectors examined the blast site after the fact, they found rampant violations of the agency's already inadequate standards. They proposed a more than $5 million fine, and issuance of citations for 61 egregious willful violations, eight willful violations and 51 serious violations. Under OSHA's rules, a 'serious' citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to occur, a 'willful' violation is a violation committed with plain indifference to employee safety and health, and 'egregious' citations are issued for particularly flagrant violations."

Philip Morris International: Unshackled. "The Marlboro Man is finally free to roam the globe unfettered by the legal and marketing shackles of the U.S. domestic market."

Roche: Saving Lives is Not Our Business. This pharmaceutical company makes HIV-related drugs, but refuses to discount prices in developing countries. Roche Korea's top dog reportedly told Aids activists, "We are not in business to save lives, but to make money. Saving lives is not our business."

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Funny you should mention Ecuador.

My girlfriend are headed there this spring to purchase a 3 bedroom/high-rise, Pacific oceanfront condo to which we plan to retire in three years.

Anonymous said...

oops = My girlfriend and I

Anonymous said...

How much room do I have to add a few companies to this list?

The Banker

Bernie O'Hare said...

We could start with U.S. automakers.

Uncle G. said...

Raplh Nader is behind the Multinational Monitor. 'nuff said.

Anonymous said...

thx bernie, for prividing me a list of stocks i would want to buy. when i am reviewing my portfolio next year ...and TAKING PROFITS ....these will be the names i am looking at.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:38am, you're right in that there are some TREMENDOUS profit opportunities out there. And some of these companies will be on that list.

But that doesn't mean this post isn't valid - these companies were jokes. Add Citi, Wachovia, DHL, and many others to the list.

The Banker

gsbrace said...

Bottom line, these companies put profits so far ahead of people, they actually theaten health and well-being.

Maybe it's my faith teachings talking, but it's truly a sin. At least their CEO's sleep well now b/c a certain metaphor about fitting through the eye of a needle comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

The worst bunch of gangsters in American business is the federal government. They control far more capital than any behemoth corporation and have the power to legally enslave and imprison. Corporations that feed from the public trough do so with the compliance of a reliable partner in crime - the US government. I don't know about you, but I can no longer see where government ends and corporations begin.

With handouts the latest fashion, a post like this simply ignores today's new, progressive approach. We are all CITI. We are all GM. We are all AIG. We are all in this together now - whether we like it or not. And we're not going to like it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"thx bernie, for prividing me a list of stocks i would want to buy. when i am reviewing my portfolio next year ...and TAKING PROFITS ....these will be the names i am looking at."

You may already be an investor and not know it. Much cleaner that way. I suspect that many mutual funds and pension funds invest in these multinationals.

Valima said...

Ahhh! The good ol Dole family!

They went to Hawaii as missionaries way back when. They turned the natives into indentured servants so they could sell f'n pineapples. Then decided it would be good to do the same nonsense attrocites in other tropical areas this side of the globe and turn make all the native people work for what was ALREADY theirs!

CNPC! As long as China funds our debt, no one is, or has yet to say $h1t about the horse riding mujadadin in Sudan slicing up the blacks w/ their machetes.

It's time for the revolution! :)

Bill Leiner Jr. said...

Bernie,

Happy Thanksgiving. I watched the President pardon the turkey yesterday and and wondered which one was the turkey.

I read with interest some of the comments in this thread and others. I wonder if Sarah Palin is writing some of the anonymous notes in your threads as they seem so dumb and ill informed.

The Bi County Health Board comments are interesting. The Devil is in the details with the H-Board. Mr. Angle asks some good questions.

Take care and help your friends who are experiencing an existential crisis since 11/4 by telling them what Nancy Reagan would say, "Just cheer up." Bill

PS - Come to Coplay and spend some money at our GIANT Foodstore. The Borough Council is raising taxes by 1.5 mill. Tell your contributors that all municipalities - School District, Borough, Twp., County, State, and Federal are facing enormous challenges to hold the line on taxes. Most (if not all) will not be able to hold the line on taxes. It is a great time to be an elected official.