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The End Of Magical Thinking: Money Cannot Manufacture Resources

Submitted by Adam Taggart via,

Author Kurt Cobb writes frequently on energy and the environment and warns that our current economic policy suffers from a fatal degree of magical thinking: sufficient new resources will emerge if the price is high enough.

As any fourth grader will tell you, a finite system will not yield unlimited resources. But that perspective is not shared by those controlling the printing presses. And so they print and print and print, yet remain flummoxed when supply (and increasingly, demand for that matter) does not increase the way they expect.

Is this any way to run an economy? Or a finite planet for that matter?

Of course, a lot of people have been hearing the hype about the growth in production in the United States for crude oil. That has been happening, but it has been happening with very high cost oil. Now the prices are down and the industry is on its back. They are looking for ways to increase the amount of money they can get for that crude oil. One of those would be to sell this light tight oil, which is oversupplied in the United States to foreign refineries. They cannot do it because of the export ban. I am not sure that is going to help them much because the price of oil has gone down so low as compared to what their costs are.


We have already seen a decline in U.S. output. The prognostication that we were going to be energy independent in oil, and that we were going to become the largest provider of oil to the world, I do not think are going to work out. It shows us that high priced oil leads to low priced oil, which also leads to economic slowdown. That is what we are seeing now. That is the equation that you and I wonder how people do not see that these things are connected, and yet they do not.


I think you put your finger on it: people who run our central banks and run our government policy think that money manufactures resources. If we just put enough money out there, it will call forth the resources. There is a little bit of truth to that, because very cheap finance made it possible for us to lift this $100 barrel oil out of the shale formations of North Dakota, Texas, and other places. That is not endless, and the high price puts pressure on the economy. I think this is where we are going to have problems.


We cannot sustain those high prices in the long run. We have structured an economy for cheap energy and that is not what we have. It has resulted in a slowdown that I think is the beginning of that transformation from a high growth economy to a low growth economy. In fact, we probably already began that in 2008. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Kurt Cobb (47m:42s):