Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Bright Side of the Oil Surge

Oil is at all time highs, the housing market is getting worse, unemployment is surging. How can there be a bright side?! There's always a bright side. As long as there's a free market, scarcity breeds invention, and this time is no exception.

New technology has allowed both Canada and Montana to access huge petroleum reserves which will come online over the next few years. At the same time, algae to fuel technology is no longer pie in the sky, it's going to happen.

It may be a few years, but oil is going to tank. I don't mean fall back a bit, I mean it will be closer to $10/barrel than $100. It will have a ripple effect as well.

Wealthy oil barrens and their support staff have become accustomed to lavish lifestyles which they are not likely to give up readily. This means there will be a "fire sale" on US companies, stocks, prime commercial real estate, hard assets like gold and silver, art and gemstones.

For a while, North Korea and the like will benefit as much of this money is spent on weaponry as discontent and paranoia build in countries that are heavily dependent on oil revenue. However, weapons are handy for the battle at hand, but not a good long-term investment. If not properly maintained and frequently updated, they become obsolete and/or inoperable. Even nukes have a shelf life, not so much the radioactive material, but the mechanisms to fire and detonate them. Eventually, North Korea will be left with no customers.

Will this mean a golden age of peace and prosperity. Maybe not. It's likely that the fact that the U.S. will become even less dependent on the rest of the world will cause more anti-American sentiment. The tendency around the globe seems to be to loathe us rather than to emulate us.

This is going to happen regardless of who takes the White House. It's too late to stop it, barring the near-term unilateral flooding of the market with oil by OPEC, which is highly unlikely. The next president will likely be credited with Solving the Energy Crisis, for whatever that will be worth.

Actually, both candidates have said that becoming energy independent within 25 years is not possible. Both are dead wrong. As I've said before, smart entrepreneurs are not going to wait for the blessing and approval of politicians and "experts" to take advantage of this situation.

No comments: