An interesting article for those of you about to buy a new car. Maybe $5 a litre isn't going to happen after all. I have quoted liberally from the article, so liberally that you might as well just follow the link!
High-flying tech stocks crashed. The roaring housing market crumbled. And oil, rest assured, will follow the same path down.
... it's clear that the only question is when - not if - prices will succumb.
The oil bulls are correct in their explanations of why prices have jumped, to a record $138.54 a barrel on Friday. It's indisputable that worldwide demand has surged, chiefly driven by strong growth in China, India and the Middle East. It's also true that most of the world's reserves are controlled by governments in places like Russia and Venezuela that mismanage production, thus curtailing supply growth.
But today, the sudden surge in demand and the production bottlenecks have thrown the market radically out of balance.
Almost exactly the same thing happened in the housing market. And both housing and oil supply react to a surge in demand with a long lag. In housing, the lag is caused by restrictive zoning and development laws, especially in coastal markets like California and Florida.
But sooner or later the world won't keep paying those prices: Eventually, the price must fall back to the cost of that last barrel to clear the market.
So what does that barrel cost today? According to Stephen Brown, an economist at the Dallas Federal Reserve, that final barrel costs just $50 to produce. And when the price is $125, the incentive to pour out more oil, like homebuilders' incentive to build more two years ago, is irresistible.
It takes a while to develop new supplies of oil, but the signs of a surge are already in place. Shale oil costing around $70 a barrel is now being produced in the Dakotas. Tar sands are attracting investment in Canada, also at around $70. New technology could soon minimize the pollution caused by producing oil from our super-plentiful supplies of coal.
And so it will be with oil. We don't know where the new abundance will come from, from shale, or tar sands or coal or an OPEC desperate to regain market share. We just know that it will appear. With prices like these, it always does.
All I can say is I can't wait. The best thing won't be the happy feeling of filling up for $50 again, but the long faces of environmentalists as their doomsday is called off yet again.