The dark side of capitalism is that disruption, change and scarcity all provide avenues of profit for those willing to speculate on its consequences.
By Nick Buxton
It is hard to imagine reading the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report and feeling energised and excited. After all, the report, published in October 2018, warned that we are on a path to catastrophic climate change, way beyond the maximum 1.5 degrees temperature increase goal made three years ago at the United Nations climate conference in Paris. It leaves me with a sinking feeling of dread. Yet, strange as it may seem, some who read the IPCC report may well have reacted with joy. Yes, at the chance to make money. The dark side of capitalism is that disruption, change and scarcity all provide avenues of profit for those willing to speculate on its consequences.
The seemingly shameless capacity of some people to seek profits in the most desperate of situations was brought starkly home recently when I read about a financial investor in Dallas who as Hurricane Harvey approached the US east coast realised that investing in short-term housing in Houston and South Florida would be profitable as people fled their homes and looked for anywhere to stay. “We saw occupancy go to 100 percent in a lot of those hotels,” says the Dallas investor. “We didn’t crush it. But we made 25 percent, 30 percent, pretty quick.”