Category Archives: Economics

Doom and Disaster

The glee on the left at the defeat of the Republicans’s, and, more especially, Trump’s Obamacare reform package really knows no bounds. The human Cheeto stands exposed as incompetent and obviously unfit for office. And so on.

Realistically, the Paul Ryan inspired, three stage, series of rather lame changes to Obamacare deserved to die.  It is unfortunate for Trump that he aligned his White House with the bill and that is a mistake he’ll have to live down. But the fact is that the RyanCare version of ObamaCare was, at best, conceptually muddy.

With the withdrawal of this piece of legislation, the US is left with ObamaCare and it is a pretty good bet that this edifice will gradually collapse as its own contradictions and faulty assumptions are worked out in the marketplace. The ongoing collapse of the insurance exchanges, the rise in deductibles and the sheer expense of medical insurance for middle income families all suggest that the ObamaCare model is in increasing trouble. A fact not lost on Trump.

Now there are Panglossian interpretations of the defeat of RyanCare which cast it in terms of clever Trump suckering the establishment Republicans to make way for his own version of healthcare reform. While I suspect this sort of outcome may occur, it will be more an accident than a plan.

The underlying problem of healthcare in the US is the tension between free market principles and the desirability of people having decent healthcare at a price they can afford. Very smart people on both the left and the right have been arguing about this for decades. ObamaCare, for all of its flaws, was a solution which might have worked had the American economy expanded more rapidly. Coming up with a better plan build on the essential structure of ObamaCare, which is what RyanCare attempted to do, was always going to be conceptually muddy and very unattractive to the free markets end of the Republican world. RyanCare was not a better plan than ObamaCare and never aspired to be; rather it was an attempt at “less worse”.

At this point Trump can – as he has threatened – let ObamaCare explode simply by sitting on his hands and refusing to make the adjustments and spend the money needed to keep the exchanges functioning. Politically that might be smart or it might be incredibly short sighted as the voters will be deeply unimpressed when they lose their ObamaCare insurance.

A smarter approach is likely a complete re-conceptualization of healthcare in America and the government’s role in assisting people who need healthcare. There seems to be some consensus that the costs of  “catastrophic illness” should not be entirely borne by the individual and his or her family. And there seems to be a willingness to pay for the healthcare of the poorest people in the society which is, in fact, a welfare rather than healthcare question.

What would happen to the general insurance market if the costs of catastrophic illness was taken out of the mix to be covered by private insurance? The devil is in the details but, in principle, the cost of insurance which did not have to deal with catastrophic health events would go down. Likely quite significantly.

A TrumpCare package which “socialized” the catastrophic end of the risk pool would, in fact, be the thin end of the single payer wedge with some of the efficiencies such a system would create. Trump does not strike me as a free market ideologue and I doubt that thin end would worry him a bit. On the welfare/subsidy side it is not out of the question to essentially buy a set amount of insurance for the poorest people and ensure coverage.

Coming up with a simple, well costed, plan which deals with both expensive illness and poor people would be a huge step forward.

However, I would suggest a third element: a really serious look at how a) the incidence of catastrophic illness can be reduced, b) an initiative to create efficient best practices to deal with catastrophic illness and c) a drive to reduce the costs of treatment for catastrophic illness through everything from the use of single payer drug buying power to tort reform.

RyanCare, like ObamaCare, seemed to want to do far too many things all at once. Doing a few things very well might be a better model for Trump to follow as he cleans up the mess.

 

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Paris Plop

Heading into the final hours of COP21 – even with the traditional 24 hour extension – it is pretty apparent that:

  • there will be no legally binding agreement – John Kerry himself has finally acknowledged that he couldn’t get it through Congress
  • that the West is not actually willing to give the less developed nations of the world trillions of dollars to deal with “climate change” and the damage already suffered due to so called “historic emissions”
  • that whatever agreement is finally signed – and there is always an agreement even if it is only to meet again – the wind has gone out of the climate alarmist sails
  • that this entire exercise is not about science and it is barely about climate, rather it is about using a scare to force the West to transfer massive amounts of money to the developing world

The amusing part of the entire charade is that, when you look at the world relative to its state in 1992 when the whole climate madness began in Rio, the less developed world has radically developed.

India had a purchasing power parity GDP of 1124 billion in 1992, it was 7375 billion in 2014.

China had a purchasing power parity GDP of 1438.13 billion in 1992, it was 17617 billion in 2014.

Unsurprisingly, India is none too eager to stop buring fossil fuels and China’s great concession has been to accept unlimited growth in emissions until 2030 when, it really does promise to start reducing emissions.

Whack-a-doodle warmists and greenies will, as per usual, be sad when the Paris Conference ends with a non-enforcable damp squib of a not-a-treaty agreement. The more intelligent of them will be very depressed indeed because the wheels continue to fall of the science as the Pause lengthens, the models depart further from the observations and, oops, Arctic ice extent is the highest its been in a decade.

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The “science” behind the climate hysteria is crumbling and the green dream of a reversion to horse and buggy days is collapsing faster than the price of oil. The fake consensus is under attack, the models are failing and, despite the great and the good all claiming that we’ll all be baked, the general public has turned away from global warming alarm.

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Future Work

3d_printing-partsMy 14-year-old got a strange little cable from China the other day. It has a USB thingie at one end and a big honking industrial grade connector at the other. It came with a CD. To get it to work he had to partition his $15 ThinkPad’s hard drive, install Windows XP and then install the software. He can now do dealer level diagnostics on about sixty different sorts of older cars. It cost him $20 which he earned himself doing online reviews (big hint, diet pills don’t actually work.)

He got it running just after installing a new keyboard on my AIR – chocolate milk is not your friend as his younger brother has been learning. And before that he did a sketch-up version of a forty dollar plastic part for a BMW rear window awning which he sent off to an online 3D printing shop and which should be here for $15.00 for two, including shipping, in a couple of days.

One of the reasons why we homeschool is that I am pretty much convinced that the idea of a “job” economy where you punch assorted academic tickets and then take an entry-level position and work your way up is pretty much over. Yes, there will still be lots of STEM jobs where the ticket punching makes a lot of sense – you can’t design or build a serious integrated circuit without a good deal of electrical engineering training – but a lot of the other career paths manufacturing, banking, government, even teaching, are undergoing radical transformations. So are the low skill jobs like taxi driving and retail sales.

[I am going to ignore the AI elephant in the corner. Once that gets out of the lab a lot of bets are right off the table.]

The whole question of “what do you need to know to get a job” is a moving target. There is no question at all that the ladies at HR will be looking for “qualifications”. Captain Capitalism suggests that college has become a fourth layer of government in the US because you can’t get the good jobs without having passed through its sorting hat. I suspect he is right, he usually is. But it is the layer of government which is easiest to evade.

I went to college for a long time. I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I learned many things. I had an excellent time and would recommend the experience highly. I also started university when a year’s tuition was $450 and when I went to law school it was something like $2800. (Yes, I really am that old.) But to put it in perspective, I paid for a third and fourth year myself as well as grad school and law school with part-time jobs. It was totally doable. Now, as my elder son is finding, it is close to impossible.

The credential itself is a lovely thing but, by the time you are in your early thirties, no one ever asks what you did as an undergraduate. They are interested in what you can do for them right now.

Richard Feynman got off to a great start taking apart broken radios in the 1930’s. Eventually, he understood enough that he could actually fix the radios. He learned about locks and security systems and, eventually, noticed that a brittle O-ring brought down the Challenger and proved it with an elegant little experiment.

I am a huge fan of university. I am also aware that the life expectancy of my children is, as I write, something on the order of 100 and probably closer to 150. Taking four years when you are 25 or 30 to study something you are interested in makes a lot of sense. But, if you have a capacity and a curiosity about how stuff works and how to fix it, it may make a lot more sense to run with that for a few years in your late teens and early twenties. If there is a credential required, a trade ticket is forever. Robots will serve you that Big Mac, they will not rejig the fuel injection on your BMW or get your cooler to be cold.

Building apps is a wonderful thing. It is nice, clean work. Hacking code is lovely and it is very lucrative. The Google guys who made Sketch-up and 3D printers have given kids like my son the ability to make “things” which would have taken a complete machine shop to build a decade ago. And that is changing the nature of work in ways which make the entire idea of credentials seem rather quaint.

A kid who goes into a trade program already knowing how to make custom parts without the machine shop is in a different world. We didn’t teach Sam how to draft or how to take measurements with a set of digital calipers. We told him it was possible and that there was a need for a particular part. He taught himself the rest.

The new jobs are going to be the old jobs with new technology. Fixing your cooler will be the same set of HVAC issues but being able to scan and replicate the broken part changes the entire ball game. More importantly, knowing that it can be done is the key bit of knowledge which will change how work is done in the future.

The credential is a “nice to have”, the knowledge is essential.

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Politics as if Economics Mattered

We are watching Greece being put into receivership for debts which, almost certainly, it will be unable to pay. We are watching the City of Chicago sink into a morass of unfunded pension liabilities and a school system which is effectively bankrupt. Ontario has had its credit rating downgraded with one economist noting “Ontario’s debt ratio “has risen by more than any other province” since the Great Recession.”

It is an endless refrain of crazed right wingers like myself that governments spending more than they take in is a bad idea. Oh sure, it can be a good idea for a year or two to keep the wolves from the door, but as soon as possible a government needs to put its budget in mild surplus.

We are about to enter the federal election season in Canada in earnest. At the moment we have a mild surplus in the last federal budget but that is almost certainly gone with the collapse in oil prices and thus tax revenue. And you don’t have to be much of a cynic to think that finding a billion dollar surplus six months before the election was pretty much a sure thing.

Now, the dangerous thing about elections is that the political class from all parties likes to run on a platform of “doing things”. Increasing the child tax benefit, going green, “child care, health care, job creation, renewable energy and investments in infrastructure” all cost money.

With a slowing economy, declining tax revenues, a tanking Canadian dollar, a rising trade deficit promising more spending looks more than a little nuts.

Promising to do more with less, to reduce non-essential federal programs, to reduce the overall percentage of GDP the federal government takes, reducing the size of government in real terms would all seem to make more sense in a shrinking economy.

But a really clever party would pay attention to the structural changes which are coming to the Canadian and the world economy. We have an aging population and we have a birth rate which is below replacement. We have housing prices which disrupt family formation. We have an immigration rate – from countries which have populations with little to offer Canada – which is hitting 300,000 new Canadians a year. We have an oil economy which makes very little sense at current oil prices. And, around the corner, we have everything from driverless trucks to robotic fast food. Add to this a legal, First Nations, environmentalist veto over critical resource infrastructure and projects and you have a nation which is fast running out of runway.

I have very little time for any of the three leaders or their parties; but I would be willing to vote for anyone of them which was willing to embrace policies which grew the real economy. A litmus test is looking at what Whynn is doing in Ontario and doing the exact opposite.

Canada has the capacity to use its abundant energy and other resources to create well paying jobs and thriving businesses. We have a stable society – for the moment – with sound banks and a legal/regulatory system which has avoided a good deal of the corruption which plagues our friend to the South. We should, by rights, be thriving. But we are not. A party or a leader who asks why we are not is on the right track.

A government committed to growing the Canadian economy will, in a short while, have the money to pursue its spending priorities. Before you slice the pie you have to bake it.

Wish there was one around.

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Rate Cut, Dollar Drops…

Canada dollar, interest ratesBank of Canada dropped the bank rate a quarter point today. The dollar dropped about a penny against the USD.

The Bank cited a mild recession in the first half of the year for the cut.

The immediate effect of the cut has been to have the banks trim their mortgage rates slightly. Which will have a small effect on housing prices taking the price of a crack shack in Vancouver from 1.1million to 1.2 million. Now some people might think the crack shack at 1.1 million was fairly priced (others of us will tend to say things like…Are you insane?). But in the grand scheme of things putting a tiny bit more air in a bubble simply postpones the day when the bubble pops.

Out in the real economy it is very unlikely that a company thinking about a multi-billion dollar investment in an Oil Sands play will change its mind because money is a little cheaper. The price of oil is just a wee bit more significant. Nor will a 1/4-point cut change many investment or employment decisions in smaller scale businesses. And the corresponding drop in the value of the dollar, while it may make some Canadian manufactured goods more attractive to our American friends, will be offset the next time you go to buy lettuce.

So what is really going on?

At a guess, the BOC realized it was going to have to cut and decided to cut well outside the election period coming up. The next rate-setting window is in September and that is very close to the October election. But there is another issue at work as well: for a variety of reasons – mainly outside the control of the BOC – the Canadian economy is looking a bit flaccid. Obviously oil prices have hurt. But so has the massive overinvestment in houses and the building market. The crack shacks are one side of that, the towers full of 500 square foot condos are another. Keeping the housing bubble inflated may not make much economic sense but it is critical politically. When the bubble bursts, and it will, a vast number of Canadians will be deeply worse off on paper. They’ll still have their houses but those houses and condos will drop significantly in value. think 30%.

People living in a $600,000 house with a $550,000 mortgage will be deeply underwater. They will feel poorer. In fact, when they come to pay the monthly they will feel broke as Hell and, in a market where the supply of houses will vastly outstrip the demand, they will be profoundly illiquid. They will be stuck and they will be angry and they will be frightened.

For the last decade the Conservative government has followed a policy of deficit containment rather than elimination. Provincial governments have ignored containment and have sped ahead to staggering deficits. All of which means that the room for fiscal manoeuvre in the face of a housing sell off with its resulting loss of confidence is minimal. The Conservatives strategy was ill considered, many of the provinces – looking at you Ontario – were simply reckless.

Poloz, as Governor of the BOC, is rightly considered non-political. However, the politics of the coming debt crunch in Canada are non-partisan. They will favour no party because all of the parties will be stuck with the same mess. Worse, none of the parties, governments or the BOC will have many tools to fight the fire.

Today’s cut kicked the can a few months down the road. The federal election can take place without any of the participants having to face the looming crash. So they won’t and we’ll have an election which studiously ignores the fiscal and monetary catastrophe waiting in the wings.

I can hardly wait.

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Round and Round the Mulberry Bush…

il_340x270.480855993_30qp (1)Pop goes the Weasel.

In olden times those down on their luck would pawn their coats or their tools on Monday and hope to redeem their pawn by Sunday when they needed to turn up in church properly attired.

Richard Fernandez, writing at PJ Media, talks about the musical chairs of the Greek Crisis:

Eventually the physical world starts to change to reflect the payments that have to be made to the players. Trade begins to contract, stores start to close and desperate individuals start to riot. In the naive days of the 20th century, when faith in angels and demons began to wane, it was fashionable to regard matter as primary. Wars were fought by burning actual buildings, killing physical people. But today we know that information has physical force. Computer programs, genetic instructions, memes — and financial data — are to all intents and purposes actual things, rather than airy nonsense.

Unfortunately we still live in a world governed by ancient 19th century Marxian ideas, where politicians regard information as infinitely corruptible, in a world where lies are not only common, but the stuff of power, the very sinews or privilege.  A financial crisis occurs when information goes so far out of whack with the physical world the music has to stop, and those without a chair must be booted off. belmont club

Greece is not a big deal. 2% of the EU economy. The entire place could sink into the Aegean and the world would be little worse off.

China is a bigger place. The factory of the world and its stock markets are in the process of collapse. A lot of companies which we have never heard of have shed 2.5 trillion dollars in market cap in the last three months. Unlike the Greeks, the Chinese have lots of hard currency with which to intervene and there is every reason to believe that the possibility of a Chinese crash will be averted. For now.

Infinitesimal interest rates and overbought markets are, at the moment, haunting the US, the UK, Europe, Japan and China. Fernadez thinks that “the players” have figured it all out and have comfy armchairs waiting when the music stops.

I am not so sure. The players have always counted on governments to step in when there is a cash crunch. When the derivatives have been drawn against busted counter-parties, when the “too big to fail” surprise us by failing. To date, that assumption has been true. It has been true because the governments have had the means – usually the printing press – to literally paper over the flaws in the system. At the moment the Greeks do not but the EU does and I suspect will. At the moment, the Chinese market is in free fall but the Chinese government has the cash to bail them out. But cash, however abstracted, is a finite resource. If you print more than your economy can sustain your cash begins to lose its value against real assets, against food, against bills of lading which must be settled on arrival.

The music is still playing and only the smallest children have been denied seats; but now the scramble is on to secure a seat for the next round.

The one thing which the world seems incapable of doing right at the moment is making more chairs.

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The Liberal Party in Five Years

While I distrust polls it would seem that the bloom is off Justin Trudeau’s rose and it is now a question of whether he’ll manage to hold the Orange tide sufficiently to save Harper or if he’ll be relegated to also-ran status once the debates occur. Either way, the Liberal Party will be a shadow of itself come October. So might the Conservative Party and thus a question – what should the Liberal Party do?

The easy answer is to dump Trudeau and his advisors and find a new leader. Which is, I suspect, exactly what they will do. However, there is another alternative and one which in the privacy of my own blog I want to think about.

Step one: yes, dump the advisors. They appear to be idiots and lack the essential Liberal instinct for the jugular. 32 point Democratic policy papers are a pretty sure sign that the war room has lost the thread. But keep Justin.

Step two: understand that politics is about to undergo a huge and deeply upsetting change. No, it isn’t global warming which isn’t happening. No it isn’t Prime Minister Mulcair repealing Bill C-51. It is about the underlying economy of the world shifting in a way that none of the mainline parties has a clue about dealing with.

Step three: Robots. In fact robots and artificial intelligence and a bunch of interesting biotech and, well, robots. Technology is poised to change the way we do virtually everything, from driving to fast food to drafting wills, we are perilously close to machines being able to deliver the goods without human intervention.

Step four: Yikes. No jobs. Jobs are the way we allocate resources in our current economy. To make stuff, to approve loans, to create new products, to deliver things, to get food to the grocery store, we need people and we pay those people. Because they are paid they can buy stuff and the wonders of a market economy continue. What happens when a 200k a year haul truck driver is replaced by an autonomous driving robot? Well, that is 200k which will not be spent on F-150s and hot tubs in Fort MacMurray.

Step five: Whether the NDP or the Conservatives win the election, neither party has the freedom to think about the implications of an increasingly jobless economy. Pure capitalism, where labour is largely irrelevant to the production of goods and services, is a world that neither the Conservatives nor the NDP have or can contemplate.

Step six: Young Mr. Trudeau, humbled by his deep losses reaches back to his father’s legacy of intelligence and begins to askthe questions the other parties are incapable of. How do we deal with an economy of abundance? How can we finance government when individual earned income plummets? What do we do when “work” is delinked from production? How can we create a new economy out of the ashes of the old?

Step seven: A humbled Mr. Trudeau walks out those questions and looks for really smart people to answer them, for Canada.

It is not at all clear what the answers will be. The advent of serious robotics and the beginnings of applied artificial intelligence will create a situation which has not existed since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution. It will be the equivalent of bringing an agrarian society into the machine and factory age. At the moment there is no Canadian political party remotely thinking about any of this.

The Liberal Party, much as I hate its cronyism and its cynicism, has a long tradition of channeling intelligence towards national goals. Not that this has worked out so terribly well but Liberals have for decades at least been open to new ideas and, in a pinch, new paradigms. While the Party is a shadow of its former self and has rushed to embrace the cant of assorted climate change/inequality/SJW cranks, it still has the capacity to embrace and explore new ideas.

As importantly, while it may be wiped out in the next election, rendered a rump in Parliament, it has the history and the credibility to offer solutions which Canadians may take seriously.

Nothing will please me more than seeing the Liberal Party crushed in the next election; but it has the capacity to return and to deal with a new world which is rushing towards us. Justin is about to learn a useful lesson. Where he goes from here may end up being as important as his father’s single-minded determination to keep Canada one nation.

 

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Swiss reaction

The Swiss unpegged the franc against the Euro.

Do they know something the rest of world doesn’t.

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Shooting the Climate Cripples

I started writing about global warming and climate change at least a decade ago. At that point the warmists believed that CO2 was responsible for global warming, that the ice caps were melting, that sea level were rising and would rise meters rather the millimeters, that climate models – so long as they were peer reviewed – accurately reflected the Climate and should be relied upon for policy discussions, that natural variability of any sort played next to no role in the earth’s temperature, the temperature sensitivity to a doubling of CO2 was 3 to 7 or more degrees Celsius and that the “science was settled”.

In that decade virtually everyone of the items in this catechism has been proven wrong or highly exaggerated. The problem is that it takes a long time for the policy built on incorrect science and general hysteria to be turned around. The less important CO2 is to actual climate the more important it becomes to the policy fanatics for whom the science has always been subsumed to the politics.

Global warming hysteria was a tool in the hands of people who did not like the way in which the world worked or was likely to work. If you want to reduce consumption in the West and transfer money to the poor nations of the world (and you hate markets) you need a pivot for your lever and global warming was perfect. After all, if the fate of the world hangs in the balance you can and will convince decent people to pressure their politicians to “do something” and politicians, not being very brave and not being encouraged to do their own due diligence, will vote for “doing something” no matter how objectively hare-brained or cost ineffective.

Once you had the politicians falling over themselves to be seen as “Green” by their equally ignorant constituents, the science didn’t actually matter. Until and unless Nature gave the realists hardcore ammunition. Hardcore talking points the green blob and the wind spinners couldn’t dismiss. Headline stuff to counter and destroy the alarmist pap which the political end of the IPCC grafts on to the science in the Summaries for Policy Makers.

Now realists have two, fundamental, points to hammer home to the politicians – satellite records showing 18+ years of no warming and record breaking ice extent at the Poles. The End, it is not a pause or a hiatus as there is no certainty if or when warming will resume, of warming is well acknowledged by peer reviewed science, albeit indirectly, as there has been a surge in papers explaining the End. (Between 50 and 80, usually contradictory explanations have been proffered with no “consensus” emerging.) The rapid expansion of Polar ice has also been confirmed and various ding-a-ling theories as to how this is just what you’d expect with global warming are being peddled about with no great success.

Those two, peer acknowledged facts need to be ground into the political class’s brains until they are terrified to go to a political meeting or a community event because they know some member of the public, maybe several, will ask them how they justify (insert CO2 policy) when the world isn’t warming and the ice caps are growing. Do it over and over.
The science behind CAGW was always weak and the economics made no sense without positing the worst of worse cases, now it is time to bring that home to the mentally lazy, economically indolent and scientifically illiterate political class.

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Oil Wars

oil price

If you want to understand the future a look at the price of oil is never a bad place to start. That price is down and pixels are dying in their billions with commentary as to what that means for Russia, Iran, fracking, IS, Canada and your car’s gas bill.

Oil prices have fluctuated significantly for years and I expect they will continue to do so. What interests me is the implication of a low oil price for the longer term prospects of the West. And, in general, there seem to be more positives than negatives.

When oil prices are high there is a rush of investment into oil based enterprises from multi-nationals to frackers. No bad thing but there is always a real danger of over investment leading to the exploitation of very marginal resources. A lower oil price will strand some of that investment and, just as importantly, postpone a great deal of it. Which frees up investment for other, potentially more useful, purposes.

The second thing which happens is that governments become addicted to the joys of relatively painless oil royalties. This looks like revenue but, because it is drawn from a diminishing resource, is actually a rather dangerous drawing down of capital. A lot of oil “revenue” is seen as general revenue and is spent on non-capital expenditures. With a booming oil sector governments are tempted to think the exaggerated revenues are available for general expenses and will continue to be. Which means that government budgets are set based on a purely extractive draw down of a province’s or nation’s capital. This is a poor idea.

Not to take anything away from the bright guys who are fracking and mining their way to oil fortunes, the reality is that extracting oil does not leave much in the way of useful, secondary industry, much less innovation. Which, in turn, means that when the oil is no longer profitable to extract there is no residual, non-oil, economy left behind. If a government spends the oil revenue as it comes in, or worse uses it to secure loans, when the oil revenue dries up there is nothing to cover the spending or the debt.

(The polar case here is Saudi Arabia. If Saudi oil dried up tomorrow, other than terrorist and Islamoloons, what else does Saudi make? Take a look here for the answer. And here is Canada by contrast.)

The “bingo” of high oil revenues has been largely wasted by governments. This is not intentional, it is just what government, confronted with a big pile of money does. From Russia to Iran to Alberta, government grabs the money and spends it on day to day operations. There is virtually no way to stop this so long as we have politicians with month ahead horizons. However, the current crash in oil prices means that there will be less money to squander.

The golden lining of additional pressures on nasty states like Russia, Iran and Venezuela is likely not as significant as the prevention of malinvestment and governmental squander. In time, as various emerging economies continue to grow, demand will drive the price of oil upwards again. With luck investors and governments will not make the same mistakes twice.

(One unalloyed good arising from the collapse of the price of oil is that so called clean energy renewables like wind and solar look even sillier with their present technology. I suspect wind will always make zero economic sense; I have more hope for photo voltaic solar as new materials promise significantly higher efficiency. And those same materials in a different configuration promise radical gains in battery efficiency for that daily occurrence known as darkness. Again, a low oil price will dampen the insane over investment in these marginal technologies.)

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