Monday, May 16, 2011

Are Oil Prices a Threat to the U.S. Economy?

No, according to this video presentation by Fisher Investments,where they feature three charts to support the position that today's high oil prices don't pose a threat to the economic expansion: 

a) energy spending as a percent of disposable income is only 5.2% allowing to absorb temporarily high oil and gas prices, b) we have the most energy efficient economy in history, with oil consumption per real dollar of GDP at an all-time low, and c) while real output is now above its pre-recession level, U.S. oil consumption is 2 million bbls. per day below pre-recession levels.  Taken together, these three factors explain why we're better prepared for higher oil and gas prices than ever before.  


At 5/16/2011 6:01 PM, Blogger Larry G said...

I'm struck by page 7 of this charge of gasoline and diesel prices plus tax in the industrialized countries in 2008:

and this chart showing motor fuel taxes in Europe:

(Cents per Gallon)

Country Gasoline Diesel
Belgium 455 283
France 443 328
Germany 471 354
Italy 425 334
Japan 254 161
Netherlands 518 334
United King 338 298
United States 39 46

on energy use an GDP, this World Bank chart seems to show us at about 25 in the world:

GDP per unit of energy use (PPP $ per kg of oil equivalent)

Country name 2008 2009
Switzerland 13 13
Ireland 13 13
Italy 11 12
Denmark 11 12
Spain 11 12
Greece 11 12
Portugal 11 11
Turkey 11 11
United Kingdom 11 11
Luxembourg 11 11
Norway 10 10
Austria 10 10
Germany 9 9
Japan 9 9
Netherlands 9 9
Mexico 9 9
France 8 9
Hungary 8 8
Sweden 7 8
Poland 7 8
Slovak Republic 7 7
Belgium 7 7
New Zealand 7 7
Australia 6 7
United States 6 7

or did I get this fouled up somehow?

Most of these countries use abot 1/2 per capita that we do for personal use also.

but it really impresses me that quite a few of them pay $4 a gallon in taxes alone.

At 5/16/2011 6:29 PM, Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

The US economy has been becoming more energy efficient for decades, thanks to private-sector innovations. No federal agency has, including military agencies.

The price signal is a wonderful thing.

At 5/16/2011 10:24 PM, Blogger aorod said...

We could abolish the Department of Energy and save $17 billion. And still have $10 billion left over for nuclear security.

At 5/20/2011 9:35 PM, Blogger VangelV said...

I think it was Michael Economidies who pointed out the flaw in one of the Fisher arguments. Because there is so little oil used for each unit of GDP the US is more vulnerable than some other economies, who have more room to increase efficiencies. A reduction of a barrel of oil would have a bigger effect on the US than on the country with the less efficient economy.

Of course, I find that somewhat nonsensical. It is not because of the logic but because of the GDP reporting. In a service economy where there is so much buying influenced by the government it is hard to figure out how much real GDP is. After all, building a $160 million aeroplane that can't fly any missions may add $160 million to GDP but it will do nothing to improve real output of the economy. Such activities consume real resources and divert them from more useful ends in the consumer economy. But that is an argument for another post and perhaps another thread.

At 5/21/2011 4:50 AM, Blogger Larry G said...

how much oil is used for things like personal transportation.

i.e many people ue discretionary income to buy larger, less fuel-efficient cars, then drive them on daily solo commutes.

Doe this count of oil use "count" as GDP?


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