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Bomb Opec, The Next Dumb Idea in the Race

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by reflexblue, May 7, 2008.

  1. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #91 Jersey

    The Economists view of oil and politics. Congress wanted to sue opec over price fixing. Good luck.

    Business.view
    Bomb OPEC

    May 6th 2008
    From Economist.com
    What’s the next dumb economic idea in this race?

    THE race for the White House has been a depressing experience for anyone foolish enough to have hoped for a rational debate about economic policy. John McCain, who is at least in favour of free trade, admits to being an economic illiterate, while Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama have been united in their remorseless, largely baseless bashing of foreigners (especially the Chinese) and big business. Ordinary Americans may be the main beneficiaries of global capitalism, but it is more likely to be celebrated in Beijing than on America’s hustings.

    The topic that best showcases the candidates' appalling economic cluelessness is the surge in oil prices. American drivers are now paying well over $3 for a gallon of fuel. Both Mr McCain and Mrs Clinton advocate a “gas-tax holiday” over the summer to ease the burden for drivers. Neither of them bother to let their supposed concern for the environment affect their pandering. They ought to delight in higher gas prices—indeed, they should be arguing vigorously for further increases to help wean Americans off their addiction to oil.
    AP

    Of course, none of the three candidates mentions to the American public that drivers in most European countries pay several times what Americans do for their petrol.

    Mrs Clinton is typical of the three candidates in railing against everything from the American government’s ongoing purchases of oil for the country’s strategic reserve (even though no expert thinks these make more than a tiny difference to the oil price) to alleged manipulation of the price by energy traders.

    True, Mrs Clinton may have greater expertise about trading than the typical politician, once having famously made a tidy profit during her brief, controversial foray into pork-belly futures. But most experts doubt that speculators have driven up the price to its record highs, while almost everyone agrees that the traditional forces of supply and demand (growing strongly, especially in the developing world) and the plunging dollar have played major roles.

    Besides, even if traders are to blame, it is not obvious what an American president could do to stop it, given that oil is an integrated worldwide market with a price set globally.

    The policy likely to appeal most to Congress, and proposed by both Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama, is to levy a “windfall tax” on oil-company profits to punish them for the high price of oil. No matter that this might simply be passed on to consumers in the form of even higher prices at the pump, there are several other reasons why most economists think windfall taxes are a bad idea.

    At the margin, it would probably discourage oil companies from investing in expanding supply—something that, all things being equal, would help to lower oil prices. The last time America tried a windfall tax, in 1980, it generated far less revenue than expected (though that would not necessarily be the case this time) and required the creation of a vast bureaucracy with mountains of red tape.

    Mrs Clinton’s other policy solution is more logical, though completely impractical. One reason the oil price is so high is the existence of a cartel run by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Unfortunately, breaking up that cartel is easier said than done.

    Mrs Clinton, in a rare moment of enthusiasm for the institutions governing the global trading system, suggests action by the World Trade Organisation. But it has jurisdiction over only a handful of OPEC members, and has so far given no indication that it can impose antitrust rules on what is, after all, a cartel made up of sovereign governments.

    Over the years, various attempts to sue OPEC have been made under American antitrust law. In 2007, even Congress voted to sue OPEC for engaging in a “price fixing conspiracy” that has “unfairly driven up the price” of crude oil and, in turn gasoline.

    This lawsuit would also have removed sovereign immunity that protects the governments in OPEC from prosecution or having their assets seized as punishment. The trouble is, even if OPEC were found guilty of antitrust abuses in an American court, how would the cartel actually be punished or broken up?

    Ultimately, there is no way to secure compliance with America’s courts short of military action, which is one reason why even the Bush administration opposed last year’s Congressional vote. But, if oil prices continue to rise and the election race remains close, how long before one of the presidential candidates proposes bombing OPEC, even though there could be no surer way to send oil prices soaring to new highs?

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  2. Stokes

    Stokes In the Starting Line-Up

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    It would be funny if it wasn't OUR congress that thought about that. Ah, stupidity...

    At any rate, that was a good read, it shows how the pols are trying to score votes by passing legislation that more than likely will have no effect on oil prices. Seems like every issue nowadays (and maybe its always been this way, I don't know) is about scoring political points rather than actually trying to solve anything. Yuck.
     
  3. patsfan13

    patsfan13 Hall of Fame Poster PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Congress is trying to avoid blame but doing nothing to solve the problem.
     
  4. Stokes

    Stokes In the Starting Line-Up

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    Yep, and that's the basic political answer to everything, cover your behind, and try and make the other guy look bad.
     
  5. reflexblue

    reflexblue PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #91 Jersey

    Just as they are full of sound and fury to impress the public, and like you said cover their collective azz's. :mad:

    I wonder what court this case would be heard in? :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  6. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    The best next war would be a war to inflate the dollar ... which will in turn ease oil prices short term ... long term ... and I go back to the 70's I'm tired of all the new energy talk ... we have done about 10% of what we are capable in that area since then.
     
  7. PressCoverage

    PressCoverage Banned

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    Energy dictates currency. Not the other way around.
     
  8. IcyPatriot

    IcyPatriot ------------- PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey


    That's why it needs to be a war ... we're getting abused ... the world is getting abused by the current system.

    Value oil in dollars ... we lose.

    Value oil in Euros .. we lose.

    What's next ... the Yen?

    My blood pressure is rising
    How we get screwed so much ... time to go play Far Cry ... :violent:
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  9. wistahpatsfan

    wistahpatsfan Pro Bowl Player

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    #75 Jersey


    It could be worse........


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

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