Notes nov 9 2007

November 11, 2007 § Leave a comment

Important on Oil

By Steven Mufson
Washington Post Staff Writer

Saturday, November 10, 2007; A01

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/09/AR2007110902573.html?hpid=topnews

High oil prices are fueling one of the biggest transfers of wealth in history. Oil consumers are paying $4 billion to $5 billion more for crude oil every day than they did just five years ago, pumping more than $2 trillion into the coffers of oil companies and oil-producing nations this year alone.

The consequences are evident in minds and mortar: anger at Chinese motor-fuel pumps and inflated confidence in the Kremlin; new weapons in Chad and new petrochemical plants in Saudi Arabia; no-driving campaigns in South Korea and bigger sales for Toyota hybrid cars; a fiscal burden in Senegal and a bonanza in Brazil. In Burma, recent demonstrations were triggered by a government decision to raise fuel prices.

In the United States, the rising bill for imported petroleum lowers already anemic consumer savings rates, adds to inflation, worsens the trade deficit, undermines the dollar and makes it more difficult for the Federal Reserve to balance its competing goals of fighting inflation and sustaining growth.

High prices have given a boost to oil-rich Alaska, which in September raised the annual oil dividend paid to every man, woman and child living there for a year to $1,654, an increase of $547 from last year. In other states, high prices create greater incentives for pursuing non-oil energy projects that once might have looked too expensive and hurt earnings at energy-intensive companies like airlines and chemical makers. Even Kellogg’s cited higher energy costs as a drag on its third-quarter earnings.

With crude oil prices nearing $100 a barrel, there is no end in sight to the redistribution of more than 1 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Earlier oil shocks generated giant shifts in wealth and pools of petrodollars, but they eventually faded and economies adjusted. This new high point in petroleum prices has arrived over four years, and many believe it will represent a new plateau even if prices drop back somewhat in coming months.

“There’s never been anything like this on a sustained basis the way we’ve seen the last couple of years,” said Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard University economics professor and former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund. Oil prices “are not spiking; they’re just rising,” he added.

The benefits, to the tune of $700 billion a year, are flowing to the world’s oil-exporting countries.

there is more at the link

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