Are We On A Different Planet?

Business, China, Economics, Environment

“Hello, my name is John Richardson.
I had an accident, and I woke up in 1973.
Am I mad, in a coma, or back in time?
Whatever’s happened, it’s like I’ve landed on a different planet.”
Before you think I’ve been at the methanol again, please follow this link to the fantastic BBC TV series, Life On Mars, where a UK police officer living in 2006 is in a road accident and is transported back in time to 1973. This is definitely not a waste of polycarbonate – buy the DVD.
Like Sam Tyler of the series, it felt like I was back in time this morning when reading of the IEA report on an oil-supply crunch in five years.
It was back in 1973, if you remember, that an oil crisis triggered the US recession of 1973-75.
William Poole, president of the Reserve Bank of St Loius, argues that high oil prices this time around haven’t triggered a recession because of factors such as low inflation. This is largely the result of China and the rest of the developing world driving down costs.
But how long will this continue if the IEA is right? And how will the developing world reconcile itself to not having enough raw materials to sustain the huge boom in demand for the things made, ultimately, from oil? What will be the social, political and economic implications of the looming supply crunch on ever-more wealthy populations demanding the same mass-consumption lifestyles that westerners enjoy?


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