Monday, July 2, 2007

The Energy Balance of Snake Oil

That's a great headline!
From Alternative Energy Stocks comes some thoughts on scams (I'm hooked on this kind of story). Money quote: "Not constrained by actually needing a real product to sell..."

Unsophisticated investment is a lighting rod for the scam artists. Because there is both an urgent need to deal with the the problems posed by global warming, energy security, and resource depletion, and the new money is rapidly accelerating the advance of technology in renewable energy, new innovations are very plausible.

There are many ways to lose money in alternative energy, even without being taken by a scam.

3. Management. It's worth looking at management's background. Often shysters wrap up one scam, only to start another. Make sure you get biographical data from sources other than the company's website. You will want to make sure that the board of directors includes outside members with both the ability and motivation to oversee management and make sure that they do not make off with the firm's money.

4. Conservatism. Scammers have the incentive to boast about their company's future, solutions to big problems draw more suckers than fixing mundane, everyday problems. They will also gravitate towards business plans that are easy for everyone to understand and that people can see in their everyday lives. Not constrained by actually needing a real product to sell, they will almost invariably come up with a product that will make most people think "Wow, that'd be great."

Meyer Blinder would have loved this market. Ditto Bob Brennan.
Anybody know when Randy Pace gets out?