A Reuters probe found that under the brilliant leadership of its CEO, Aubrey McClendon, Chesapeake plotted with its top competitor, Canada's Encana Corp., to avoid bidding against each other, thereby suppressing the prices of land they wished to lease.Then, The Street blames "Libertarian orthodoxy" for this horrible situation:
The recent travails of Chesapeake Energy and an unrelated but, in its own way, equally hideous company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters(GMCR_), are the best examples I can find of how the market is simply not equipped to deal with corporate malfeasance, libertarian orthodoxy notwithstanding.
Green Mountain Coffee Roasters and Chesapeake don't seem to have much in common. But each has exhibited a collective character flaw that no billion-dollar market cap penalties can even begin to correct. They are the kind of companies for which regulation -- and perhaps law enforcement -- is the only answer.
Here is a wonderful example of the "never let facts get in the way of a good meme or narrative" strategy.
(Challenge to Gary Weiss, author of this travesty: explain how Libertarian orthodoxy that specifically makes the extinguishing of force and fraud a governmental responsibility is somehow responsible for this mess.)
Conspiring to drive prices down by rigged bidding is not only illegal, it is fraud. One of the main premises under Libertarianism is that the government does have a major role to play against people or businesses or corporations that engage in the use of fraud or force (I prefer "coercion" myself) against others.
But the flavor of the year is to attack Libertarians as responsible for every societal ill that can be generated, even though it is important to point out that it was a private company (Reuters) investigating the case based on free market incentives (Pulitzers, perhaps, for the journalists and more advertising revenue and enhanced reputation for the news outlet) that broke this case open.
Possibly that's because our own Justice Department was too busy supplying illegal weapons for the Mexican drug trade to notice what was happening.