Would not misrepresenting the actual oil spill flow, on which massive fine calculations depend, be an act of fraud against the United States of America and all BP shareholders?
Reuters announces that the daily flow rate from the spill is actually double previous estimates: “News that the flow rate may be as high 40,000 barrels (1.68 million gallons/6.36 million liters) per day — twice as much as previously thought — came after the U.S. market closed on Thursday.” This is very bad news as it effectively doubles any accrued fines that the firm will ultimately have to pay: the new liability estimate now may be as high as $80 billion!
So the Justice department probes may not be just political posturing.
Additionally, from Naked Cap, is this discussion of whether full externalities recovery has a chance of going anywhere. This opens up a whole new topic for discussion. Limiting corporate liability as a general principle has something going for it. It helps the profit motive and capital formation. But, in the last several decades, capital has seemed to go disproportionately to large enterprise, which has a number of negative effects which I won’t attempt to enumerate. I think much of the discourse out there, whether regarding Financial Services or any industry, is that industry has become too powerful. If there was a general profit squeeze in big business, would capital seek out new entrepreneurial ventures or even local staple businesses more readily? Would this not be good for our communities even if the cost of goods was slightly higher. After all, look what happens to all those cheap goods? They break or are discarded. If a more moderate, or as our government leaders put it, austere style of living is necessary, why not at least do it with more local businesses and fewer mega corporations?