CFR: China Poised to Shock the Oil Market And Its Possible Consequences for Hyperinflation

Tuesday, August 24, 2010
By Paul Martin

Jesse’s Café Amé

I found this paper published by the Council on Foreign Relations to be a plausible argument in favor of the exhaustion of cheap oil, also known as Peak Oil. This growth in Chinese oil consumption into the ‘knee of the curve’ given its growing per capital income could very well cause an oil shock as the title of the paper suggests. As you may recall it was an oil shock that triggered the stagflation of the 1970’s, a black swan event if there ever was one.

The weakness in its logic is assuming that things which happen in one country will necessarily happen in others, based on relatively simple vectors like per capita income. Examples of possible differences are the national infrastructure in roads, deployment of population relative to travel needs and the availability and pricing of public relative to private transportation. Since these are often significantly affected by policy decisions it is sometimes difficult to forecast them accurately.

Notice that China is under running the trends of the comparison countries at current levels. Why would we assume they would start tracking more closely to model once a certain threshold is surpassed? And then there are the growth assumptions for China, which could be optimistic. Extending aggressive trends is sometimes a dangerous forecasting method. It would also have been interesting to see where India fits on this chart.

The Rest…HERE

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