Caterpillar International and Toyota both brought bad news today. Oil prices are off 70% from their $147 peak in July. Eight months ago, any yegg with the ability to execute a financial transaction was a genius, but the bubble that burst in Q4 was the result of 8 years of Bush economic policy that can be summed up thus: reckless deregulation. One would think we learned a lesson these past months, but of late that old Bush recklessness has some pundits saying cheap gas will be the death of alternative energy.
We don't hear much about the precipitous fall of crude prices in connection with conspiracy theory and popular revolt. It's a pity. What we hear is the usual pabulum that a weak economy means less demand. Less demand means decreased production which means the manufacturing sector requires less in the way of non-renewable energy, and the rest is copper-bottomed supply-and-demand economics. On a macroeconomical level this is undeniable truth, but this truth obtunds what might otherwise seem a lot like Bush-sponsored price gouging on the part of Big Oil this past summer. How else can one explain a 70% decrease in cost? Of course there are many other ways to explain it, but it is the extremes I am questionining here, not the gestalt.
We're hearing a lot about the connection between weak gas prices and weaker green technology. The connection is more concrete with each passing day, and yet the reality here is that our shared future of energy independence is being held hostage by a bunch of half-wit Wall Street suits with attention deficit disorder -- the sort of dolts who are probably this very moment in a Cadillac showroom shopping for an Escalade because a gallon of gas costs about the same as a gallon of water.
Does anyone seriously think that gasoline prices are going to hold at a buck and change? Let's face it my dear Shlubbos of the Economic Binge, as soon as we get around the sharp-edged threat of deflation (if we do) these prices are going to shoot up again. The planet is still running out of oil. Remember peak oil? What happens then?
While pundits talk about investment dollars mouse-tailing along the moulding of economic decline, there is a shortsighted feature to the conversation that makes me want to scream. Yes, there are people on the business side of life who are truly capable of being in the moment (no matter how much that moment is characterized by panic and disorder) to fill their pockets at the expense of everyone and everything else. There are bad people out there who need to be cornered by a watchdog 24/7. Bush was not much for watchdogs, and we're paying for that now, but to look at this easy breath coming out of the dying beast of our oil economy and to say because of it that we don't need to invest in green energy is 100% ant-and-grasshopper insanity.
T. Boone Pickens of BP Capital Management was on MSNBC's Morning Joe today and he stated a great case for why green energy is the place for whatever excess cash you might have lying around. Remember those shares of Microsoft you bought back in the day of rotary phones? Pickens ought to know a good longterm investment, right? Check out the video, and remember, while you're hoarding those gold coins, to throw a little cash at green technology.