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Thursday, May 12, 2011

Show Us the Money

We’re hearing a lot about the top five oil companies’ big first-quarter profits — $35 billion — but drawing on data compiled by Yahoo Finance, economist Mark Perry notes:

[T]he Integrated Oil and Gas industry made an average profit of 6.2 cents per dollar of sales, which ranks #114 out of 215 industries by profit margin, and puts oil companies right in the middle of industries by profitability.

Industries that did better in the quarter include: publishing – periodicals, 51 percent; application software, 22.7; cigarettes, 19.9; brewers, 16.5; publishing – books, 16.1; wineries and distilleries, 14.9; soft drinks, 14.3; broadcasting – TV, 10.5; and accident and health insurance, 8.1;

In our statist economy, we shouldn’t assume the oil companies are what they would be in a freed market, but that doesn’t mean the facts should be distorted, especially in an effort to gain more tax revenue for the politicians.

  • Sheldon Richman is the former editor of The Freeman and a contributor to The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. He is the author of Separating School and State: How to Liberate America's Families and thousands of articles.