Monday, September 20, 2010

Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression

Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression (2010-2030): A Survival Guide for Investors and Savers After Peak Oil

Peak Oil is the point of maximum global oil production. In Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression (2010-2030), the author argues that the likely peak in global oil production occurred in the period 2005-2008, due to the peaking of Saudi Arabian oil production during that time. The evidence of a peak in Saudi crude oil production in 2008 is presented and discussed in some detail. The most significant piece of evidence of a Saudi peak in production in 2008 was the inability of Saudi oil ministers to increase production in the period 2005 to 2008 despite record crude oil prices and the drilling of thousands of new wells in Saudi Arabia's seven major oil fields. Because it could not increase production in the face of rising global demand, Saudi Arabia was unable to prevent a spike in the price of oil to around $150 a barrel. A dramatic economic contraction in the developed economies ensued.

In the years ahead, it is argued, continued economic growth in the developing world including China will put upward pressure on the price of oil, which will create severe economic difficulties for the indebted developed economies such as the US which rely on imported energy. The book examines the likely policy responses of American statesmen and central bankers to the economic difficulties created by very high prices for petroleum. Oil at very high and indeed painful prices in the face of already historic levels of personal and governmental indebtedness, it is argued, will create large scale unemployment on levels not seen since the (First) Great Depression as expenditures for foreign oil dramatically reduce spending available for the domestic economy.

The author argues that the policy response to the economic difficulties will be to create a general rise in the price level to reduce the burden of the existing debt on households, businesses and governmental entities. As prices, and especially wages, rise, domestic spending will recover and unemployment will be reduced, although this process could take several decades. Very significant inflation will likely be necessary to prevent an even more severe drop in employment and output in the economy than that we are already experiencing given the magnitude of the shock to the economy created by continued declines in global oil production.

The inflation thus created, as well as the other dramatic changes in the economy as a result of Peak Oil, will alter the approach that would optimally be taken by investors and those wishing to preserve savings. The issues of asset allocation and sector weighting are explored together with alternative investments in commodities and real estate. The focus is primarily on domestic equities, but a rather unusual sector weighting strategy is proposed as most likely to produce positive results during two decades that will otherwise be most disappointing for the investing public.

Peak Oil will also create opportunities for speculation which are explored in the final chapters of the book.

Listen to the related interview on FSN In Depth: Kenneth D Worth, Peak Oil and the Second Great Depression (2010-2030) by James J Puplava

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