Writing for London’s City A.M., prolific foreign affairs commentator John Hulsman explores the supposed “conspiracy” behind Saudi Arabia’s oil war. John posits that it seems increasingly likely that the US and the Saudis have struck a secret deal to keep pumping and push down the price of oil.
Firstly, he notes that the Saudis are behaving decidedly oddly: the petro-kingdom has done nothing, nor until last week said anything, to counter the plummeting price in oil. An economics-only energy strategy should dictate that the Saudis reduce pumping to stabilise the global oil price, but this has not happened. John believes there are only two possible explanations as to what is going on:
- In the face of the challenge posed by US fracking, Riyadh may be ruthlessly defending its market share, while knobbling its great, emerging American rival in the process.
- Riyadh is hearkening back to the 1980s, when a then-secret deal to drive down the price of oil helped to economically destroy the Soviet Union.
John contends that the second option seems more viable. This is because it is being “openly whispered” that US secretary of state John Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah on 11 September this year, to strike a deal that would economically cripple – if for differing but complementary interests – their mutual enemies Iran and Russia.
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Commenting on the issue of drilling for shale gas, Matt Ridley, British journalist and author of “The Rational Optimist”, has argued in his latest Times opinion piece that householders can’t be allowed to hold up underground energy projects.
Matt points out that the “world is bedevilled by problems caused by lack of private property rights, but it is also bedevilled by problems caused by too much property ownership.” He goes on to say that “it was to prevent just such ownership gridlock that the government long ago established that individual landowners could not stop canals, railways, roads, sewers, water pipes or even coal mines going through, over or under their properties, so long as they were compensated for any harm done.”
Consequently, Matt argues that if “somebody is going to take the expensive trouble to drill through miles of rock, and have no discernible effect on your garden above, then you should no more have the right to prosecute him for trespass than you do to prosecute an airliner flying thousands of feet above your garden or a car driving past on a motorway a mile away.”
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In his latest article for City A.M., John Hulsman gives his counter-intuitive global predictions for macro investing in 2014.
Fundamentally, John states that 2014 “is the year the immense economic power of fracking will become apparent to all, as well as the year emerging markets are finally seen as an enduring and irreplaceable source of global growth in the new era of many powers.”
To put this in context, he believes that fracking is one of the many avenues that will allow for America to remake itself, whilst countries such as India and Mexico seem to be set for a definitive economic leap forward, despite the media’s portrayal of these economies (or lack thereof). John postulates that as such, emerging markets must be separated individually from here on out.
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