Faced with calls to share the oil industry’s 2022 windfall with the American people, Exxon CEO Darren Woods says he’s doing just that — in the form of a big dividend payout to shareholders. No really. I’m not kidding. “There has been discussion in the U.S. about our industry returning some of our profits directly to the American people,” says Exxon Chief Executive Officer Darren Woods. “That’s exactly what we’re doing in the form of our quarterly dividend.”
In case you live under a rock, shareholder dividends are not actually sent to the American people. They’re sent to the owners of Exxon, shareholders. So Exxon is sharing the wealth with the American people in the sense of making a lot of profits for Exxon and sharing it with the company’s owners.
Obviously sometimes people just say dumb things that don’t make any sense. What strikes me as rather wild is that this wasn’t an off-the-cuff remark. Bloomberg reports it comes from prepared remarks Woods will give on an investor conference call today.
For what it’s worth, I’m not sure anyone has called on Exxon to send checks to every American. I think President Biden is jawboning the oil companies to keep prices down, at the expense of currently wild profit margins. Whether you agree with that or not is another matter. But issuing fat dividends isn’t sharing the wealth with the American people. I think we can all agree on that.