In a Casino Mentality, The Economy Goes From Bubble to Bubble

Chronique de Rodrigue Tremblay

[U.S.] "strategy should aim, above all, at the removal
of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power."...[His removal
is absolutely vital to] "the security of the world in
the first part of the 21st century" and for "the
safety of American troops in the region, of our
friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab
states, and a significant portion of the world's
supply of oil."

Neocons' January 26, 1998 letter to President Bill
[About the Iraqis] “If they turn on their radars we're
going to blow up their goddamn missiles. They know we
own their country. We own their airspace... We dictate
the way they live and talk. And that's what's great
about America right now. It's a good thing, especially
when there's a lot of oil out there we need.”
U.S. Air Force Brig. General William Looney, head of
the US-UK flying operation south of the 32nd parallel
over Iraq (no-fly zones), interview reproduced in the
Washington Post, August 30 1999, [quoted in William
Blum's book, Rogue State, Common Courage Press, 2005,
p. 159]
"Focus your operations on the oil, especially in Iraq
and in the Gulf, as this would mean [the West's]

Osama bin Laden, December 2004
"The high crude oil prices do not have any relation to
production or consumption,"... [It is] "because of the
decrease in the value of the dollar."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran President, April 2008
The American economy seems to be going from bubble to
bubble: in 2000, it was the tech bubble; in 2005, it
was the housing bubble; and now, it is the oil and
commodities bubble. In fact, the entire world of
investment is now a giant casino where speculators are
in charge and where governments look the other way.
For many basic marketable staples (rice, wheat, and
corn) and commodities (oil, gas, metals), prices have
no relation to the underlying values of what is being
traded. Such prices are mostly driven by bad policies
and by the pyramidal “greatest fool” technique by
which [large off-shore speculators navigate through
unregulated derivatives
->] to
push prices up ever further, until the bubble burst.
Meanwhile, a lot of disruptions may be created and
people's lives may have been endangered or lost. [The
current famine
in many countries is the end result of such government
approved manipulation of markets, by OPEC and a host of
other cartels and so-called speculative hedge funds.
Is it possible for an economy to grow and prosper
without always being on a roller coaster? Indeed, does
the current explosion in oil and commodities prices
reflect real supply and demand shifts, such as supply
disruptions, or is it also or even mainly driven by
geopolitical factors and financial speculation that
fuel an ever larger insatiable artificial demand?
It is my feeling that the plummetting U.S. dollar is
having serious unintended economic consequences
worldwide. Indeed, such a panic devaluation of [the
most widely used key currency
is fueling a major rush out of dollar holdings into
hard assets, such as oil, gold and other commodities.
Central banks, companies and individuals are losing
faith in the dollar paper currency, which has been
depreciating fast against other currencies, but whose
intrinsic value is also expected to be eroded further
by the coming inflation that will inevitably follow
the Fed's current liquidity creation. All these
problems are interconnected.
Let us remember that the oil problem in the U.S. is
largely a self-inflicted predicament since the U.S.
government opted to move away from a self-sufficiency
and a renewable-energy based economy. In 1982, for
example, the U.S. daily consumption of oil had been
brought down to about 9 million barrels a day, from 14
million barrels a day before the 1973 OPEC-initiated
oil shock. Since the U.S. was producing about 9
million barrels of oil a day, it can be said the
American economy was then self-sufficient in that form
of energy needs. The Reagan administration changed all
that: No more 55 an hour driving limits; reduced
obligations for car manufacturers to raise gas
mileage; no more restrictions, fiscal or otherwise, on
the purchase of gas guzzlers, etc. The result is that
the United States, with less than five percent of the
world population, now consumes 25 percent of the daily
world oil output, roughly 22 million barrels a day out
of about 88 million barrels produced daily worldwide.
And, here's the gist, 60 percent of that oil has to be
imported. What's more, for the world as a whole, also
60 percent of oil imports come from the unstable
Middle East. That's what we can call playing with
Therefore, since oil access under American control
played an important part in the [Bush-Cheney's decision
to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq
in the spring of 2003, in order to turn that sovereign
country into an American oil protectorate under
management by a few major Anglo-American oil
companies, it can said that the seeds for this illegal
war were sown way back, during the Republican Reagan
administration. That was when the philosophy of
deregulation was rampant and was then hailed as a
success. But, as a consequence, twenty-five precious
years have been lost in preparing the U.S. economy for
the time when oil would become a scarce energy source.
Now, this time has arrived, but this is still the era
of Hummer type vehicles that can only run on large
quantities of costly and risky imported oil.
Indeed, in the U.S., there are now three cars for four
adults and those cars are larger and have more
powerful engines than anywhere else in the world. If
only a few countries, such as China and India, were to
emulate the United State in that regard, as their
income levels rise, world oil consumption would more
than double. But with no known oil reserves to meet
such an expanded demand, oil prices would skyrocket,
crushing the purchasing power of consumers and raising
inflation. The result would be a major worldwide
economic crisis before economically viable alternative
energy sources could be developed. This could take ten
to twenty years.
Are we there now? If not, we are moving fast toward
that day of reckoning, while do-nothing or complicit
governments hope for a miracle or some magic solution.
The main consequences will be rising inflation, 19th
century wars for securing resources, and a worldwide
economic slowdown in production and trade. The next
twenty years should prove to be interesting for a few,
but taxing for the many.

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