By and large, the oil companies' profits are not finding their way back into the communities from which they came; are not being used to create more jobs; and are not being invested in new equipment and exploration. Some of that money is going back out the door in the form of larger dividends to stockholders. But in the case of two of the big five in particular -- Exxon and ConocoPhillips -- more than half of their total profits are being used to buy back their own stock.
There's another thing the big oil companies are doing with their profits: they're hoarding them. If precedent holds, as soon as oil prices started shooting up again, a lot of that money started going into the bank for safekeeping -- and adding yet more to the $1 trillion or so in corporate cash lying fallow and slowing the recovery.
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