Thursday, June 19, 2008

Disgruntled at the Gas Pump? Blame politicians chaseing easy tax collections.

Yet again the free market proves that it is wiser than government officials. Here we see the market giving us a golden opportunity to preview future trends. Fueling the current price spike in oil, is the high cost of bringing new oil rigs into production, politico-economic chaos in the OPEC countries, growth of India/China, Middle East warfare, and of course the malicious currency devaluation inherent to any Fiat Money system. That all these mismanaged forces, came together at nearly the same point in history to cause an oil bubble, is quite extraordinary but hardly unexpected. Hopefully this mostly government induced turmoil, has caused a few of you to ask what your options are?

Some politicians talk about nuclear power, coal and drilling local oil wells. This talk is understandable, since such old energy technologies are very easy to tax. Such oil/nuclear facilities cannot be moved, when they fall under heavy taxation. For over 70 years the government has given heavy subsidies to coal oil and nuclear infrastructure projects. By contrast
solar, wind and geothermal power operate best when dispersed. These nascent power sources have received very few subsidies, compared to more centralized power sources, that governments can slap with predatory taxes. Additionally: from the politician's point of view, coal oil and nuclear are also indispensable to military belligerency.

Perhaps the biggest long-term culprit in our current energy crisis, is the fact that governments have pushed industrialization faster than unfettered markets would have developed. For example, you can check the slow growth of industrialization in the 19th century guided by classical (laissez-faire) economics. Then look at the speed of industrialization in the violent government centered 20th century. Indeed the most controlled of the world economies the "beloved" Soviet Union, which remained the unchallenged darling of "intellectuals and statist planners"(looters in suits) world wide, had one of the dirtiest environments imaginable. The current Russian semi-autocracy that was built upon the bones of the old Soviet Union, still has one of the lowest energy efficiency ratings in the industrialized world. Contrast Russia's performance with the United States Great Britain or Switzerland, which despite high automobile use, have much greater efficiencies, at all levels of energy use and production. It is for that reason that we should allow the market to function free of interference.

For many years we've been lied to by governments, both foreign and domestic, simply because the politicians time horizon is on the order of 10-15 years. The majority of politicians need never face up to the messes they made while in office.

However markets that experience very little regulation have a tendency to unveil the truth in dramatic ways. Small and medium-sized private investors must live with the consequences their decisions far beyond the politician's term in office.

The free market was trying to warn us of our dependence on a single energy source for quite some time now. Price spikes in energy every 30 years are abnormal. With all the subsidies, resource wars, rampant currency inflation, and outright theft practiced by governments, it's often hard to hear what the energy markets, have been trying to tell us. For the first time ever, oil well north of the $135/barrel price range, may give the world a preview of possibilities to come. Unfortunately the voters in many countries have often sided with politicians to shoot the messenger, rather than deal with the message. Let's hope that this most recent oil price spike proves to be an exception to the sad historical trend. The energy futures markets are trying to tell us the painful truth and its past time we listened.

No comments: