I’ll spend some more time developing the connection between Energy and the Economy based on the assumptions I developed in Part I sometime next week. However James Howard Kunstler put up a blog post today that is well worth noting. Here’s an interesting section:
Mr. Trump probably believes that the USA is in the catbird seat with oil because of the so-called “shale oil miracle.” If so, he is no more deluded than the rest of his fellow citizens, including government officials and journalists, who have failed to notice that the economics of shale oil don’t pencil out — or are afraid to say. The oil companies are not making a red cent at it, despite the record-breaking production numbers that recently exceeded the previous all-time-peak set in 1970. The public believes that we’re “energy independent” now, which is simply not true because we still import way more oil than we export: 10.7 million barrels incoming versus 7.1 million barrels a week outgoing (US EIA).
Shale oil is not a miracle so much as a spectacular stunt: how to leverage cheap debt for a short-term bump in resource extraction at the expense of a future that will surely be starved for oil. Now that the world is having major problems with excessive debt, it is also going to have major problems with oil. The quarrels over trade arise from this unacknowledged predicament: there will be less of everything that the economically hyper-developed nations want and need, including capital. So, what’s shaping up is a fight over the table-scraps of the banquet that is shutting down.
That quandary is surely enough to make powerful nations very nervous. It may also prompt them to actions and outcomes that were previously unthinkable. At the moment the excessive debt threatens to blow up the European Union, which is liable to be a much bigger problem for the EU than anything Trump is up to. It has been an admirably stable era for Europe and Japan, and I suppose the Boomers and X gens don’t really remember a time not so long ago when Europe was a cauldron of tribal hatreds and stupendous violence, with Japan marching all over East Asia, wrecking things.
You can read the full post here: The Summer of Discontent