Thursday, August 11, 2016

Things I Don't Understand

Today I read another headline, "IEA Sees Oil Glut Easing". This confirms other headlines such as "Everything You Need to Know About The Oil Crisis" where oil prices seem to be associated with a thriving economy or "How Plunging Oil Prices Threaten the U.S. Economy". It used be that the oil crisis was about the lack of oil and skyrocketing prices. Now it's about oil glut and falling prices.

So the goal has gone from cheap energy to help support our oil industry? How can you not love economists who can give you a crisis no matter which way things turn? Is this all concocted for our amusement? I, for one, am amused. I'm not thinking about oil industry/media conspiracies or change-is-bad/Republican/media conspiracies. That would be stupid. I believe we're more silly than stupid.


Big Myk said...

I'm puzzled about what you find puzzling about the dual threat of high and low oil prices. America is both an oil consumer and an oil producer. When prices are high, as in the '70's, that hurts the consumers, but helps the producers. When prices drop, that helps the consumers but hurts the producers. Your own cited article "How Plunging Oil Prices Threaten the U.S. Economy," gives it away at the end:

Hamilton [James Hamilton, a professor of economics at the University of California at San Diego] says that the benefits of cheap oil still outweigh the negatives. “The bottom line is that it’s a net plus for the U.S. economy when oil prices go down because we’re a net oil importer,” Hamilton says. The money that consumers save from cheap gas is more than what the producers lose from the lower price of oil, he says. But that might be little comfort to the people in oil-producing states.

Mostly, people love to complain, and seeing the glass as half-empty rather than half-full helps.

James R said...

I understand in economics one may make a case for just about anything. What's hard to understand (actually, more humorous than trying to understand) is how a monumental movement beginning in the 1970's that changed how we think about society, a movement only equaled during that time by civil rights, a movement which coined new phrases like "energy policy" and "energy conservation", which saw cabinet level posts created, "czars" installed, which saw cities lose their power and workers sent home, which saw fights in lines at gas pumps and days when it was illegal to purchase gas, which saw the auto industry shift from Detroit to foreign made, more efficient cars, which saw such a complete change in American's thinking that no Christmas lights were seen outdoors for 10 years, which saw an angry public force Big Oil to apologize for "unconscionable" profits, which saw wars started, lives lost, borders broken, a movement which saw nearly every American take part as one's patriotic duty, a movement which after 50 years finally yields a drop in oil prices from $3.50 to $2.50.

Then, after such war-time effort of half a century, we're told, "never mind!". Affordable energy and conservation are not as important as we thought. In fact, we need to help our depressed oil industry, despite all our new fracking profits. Go burn down that house with the solar panels. What I find humorous to the point of incredibility is that despite statements by James Hamilton, headline writers will ignore a defining force for the last 50 years. It's as if, after 50 years of civil rights efforts, a reporter comes up with the story, "White Run Society Threatened by Equal Rights".

Note: in the spirit of the original post (and, I assume your response) this is intended as principally humor