Everyone knows it: The Republicans are in the pocket of Big Oil. Bush was an oilman, Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton, and John McCain wants to give tax breaks to oil companies, says his opponent Barack Obama. So is there any reason why oil execs might actually be hoping for an Obama victory.
Robert Bryce, the author of Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy Independence, says he’s hearing chatter among industry insiders that they’re tired of Bush and would welcome an Obama presidency. The reason: With Brand USA losing its luster internationally, major, integrated oil firms feel they’re at a disadvantage when trying to win new business overseas — especially in the countries where our image is deepest in the toilet. If an Obama Presidency means our relationships with countries like Venezuela and Iran thaw, that might increase their prospects for business in those countries, and lessen the risk that the fruits of their investment will suddenly get nationalized.
However, it’s also possible that our brand has nothing to do with it. When oil prices are high, oil states feel emboldened to do crazy things like nationalize industry and discourage overseas firms from ever coming back. When oil is trading at $140, all but the most incompetent, inefficient state-run firms can make a buck. The price of crude has fallen so fast that we haven’t seen much political change in those states, but they may soon regret alienating the world’s most competitive oil companies. In that case, it really wouldn’t matter who is President.
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