How Ahmadinejad Can Save the US Economy
- Joshua M Brown
- February 19th, 2012
The best possible thing that could happen for the US economy would be to go to war with this motherfucker right away.
I don't mean war in the conventional sense, where we send our kids into harm's way and waste billions dropping bombs on this loser. What I mean is an Economic War, one in which we skip the farce of sanctions altogether and go straight to the part where his number one export, crude oil, means less and less to the global economy with each passing day.
This is not about the environment or emissions or sustainable whatever - this is about harming Ahmadinejad and Chavez and others like them to the point where they are toppled from within, this while simultaneously putting millions of Americans to work doing dignified, important jobs within our borders.
Two days ago this hateful monkey in a suit took a preemptive step against Europe ahead of the continent's plan to cease purchasing Iranian oil on July 1st because of the nuclear standoff...
From the Voice of America:
Iran says it has stopped selling crude oil to France and Britain, a move seen as retaliation for a phased European Union ban on Iranian oil that has yet to take effect.
Iran's Oil Ministry said Sunday that all exports to French and British companies have ceased and that Tehran has taken steps to deliver its crude to new customers.
As we all know, Europe is not a big customer for Iran and neither is the US, but this move shows how clear it is to Ahmadinejad that he is basically down to his last lever to pull. Without oil, there is nothing about Iran that would compel the world to pay even the slightest bit of attention. His "friends" in Russia and China would turn their backs on him the moment he lightens up on his defense systems and weapons purchases - China and Russia are only your friends when you have oil for them and the means to buy their missiles.
Iran clamping down on oil sales probably has a lot to do with crude oil's current price - above $100 a barrel and buoyant on any dip. Rumors about Israeli strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities and the threat of the Hormuz Straight's being choked off should keep it there for awhile. As Henry Blodget notes today at the Business Insider, $100 oil means $4 gasoline at the pumps - a price at which a few things begin to happen that are short-term negative but longer-term positive:
1. People notice what they're paying and begin to get vocal about it
2. Politicians scramble and look for someone to blame
3. Auto manufacturers wake up and go back to the drawing board to look at what kind of models and alternative energy projects they have in the pipeline
4. The domestic alternative fuel pendulum lurches back from Fantasy Island to "Shit, we better do something."
And when these things happen, a very big idea that I believe will be the salvation of this country gets a second look - the mass development of domestic natural gas fuel infrastructure.
Regular readers know how passionate I am about turning nat gas, a commodity we are filthy rich with right here in North America, into the bridge fuel that takes us from Customer #1 of every despotic asshole on the planet to the pie-in-the-sky future of wind and solar and tidal and geothermal. Bottom line - the really clean stuff just isn't here yet, so why on earth wouldn't we simply use the sort-of clean stuff that we happen to possess a lot of?
The idea here is to kill two birds with one blast of gas: The business model of "Oil n' Repression R Us" in the mideast and the sad, tired bullshit about how America can't produce anything anymore.
Frankly I'm sick of both of these two items and I'd love to see an end to both before my babies grow up into a world where they exist. So here's what you need to know: We can take a huge amount of our energy usage away from foreign oil. We can mobilize massive projects that are privately planned and funded while putting a huge amount of people to work across the country. All it will take is some political courage and homegrown technological know-how.
I want you to consider the economic possibilities here, collected from several research reports that have been conducted recently:
A September 2011 study by Wood Mackenzie says we can add 1 million new jobs in responsibly developing our own nat gas reserves by 2018 and create another $800 billion in government revenue by 2030.
A March 2011 study done by the American Chemistry Council said that with just a modest increase in gas coming from our own shale deposits we could see "over 400,000 new jobs in the United States, more than $132 billion in U.S. economic output and $4.4 billion in new annual tax revenues."
A June report from the National Ocean Industries Association points out the amazing potential of the Gulf of Mexico region alone - “total employment supported by the Gulf of Mexico oil and natural gas industry in 2013 could exceed 430,000 jobs or a 77 percent increase from 2010” if some of the right decisions are made by Congress and local officials.
Last year a trio of research reports from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Penn State University and West Virginia State University found that hydraulic fracking done correctly could mean up to 300,000 new jobs in NY, PA and WV alone including direct full-time positions and indirect hiring in the surrounding economy.
Similar studies support the potential for:
200,000 nat gas-related jobs in Ohio and Michigan (Kleinhenz & Associates, Michigan State U.)
70,000 new development jobs in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, New Mexico, Montana, and North Dakota - including another $6 billion in state, local and federal tax revenue. (Western Energy Alliance)
55,000 new energy development jobs in Alaska along with an estimated cumulative payroll of $145 billion over the next five decades. (U of Alaska Anchorage, Northern Economics)
To be clear, this does not even include the amount of work that could stem from the buildout of natural gas fueling stations and transmission lines up and down the highways and byways of America and underpinning the needs of each major metropolitan area.
In New York City, the buses run on compressed natural gas or CNG (as do the cabs in Chicago and the port vehicles in Los Angeles). The reason they can is that all of these vehicles go to sleep in a centralized depot each night - they don't need fueling stations on their route so long as they can be fueled in one place. But what if we can take long-haul trucking off of diesel gasoline and put it onto CNG over the next decade? What if we can hire people to build out that technology and infrastructure all over America for this revolutionary changeover? How much less dollars would we be sending to the snakepit? How many more companies will start up to facilitate and benefit from this?
And how about the science and engineering work that would have to be done so that we can get cleaner and more efficient about unlocking shale gas? How about the billions in R&D that could jumpstart an entire generation of smart kids to eschew the bullshit banking jobs for the riches of intelligent resource discovery and exploitation?
Nat gas energy and emissions are in fact cleaner than coal and the gas industry employs four times the amount of workers right now. We are the Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas, some estimates put the US and Canada's reserves at somewhere between 100 and 200 years worth. Nat gas heats 70 million homes and businesses today and makes up about 23% of our total energy usage - with prices plumbing the depths of multi-decade lows, both of those numbers should be going dramatically higher.
But human nature is such that nobody gets serious about something until they are forced to. Fat people often don't start diets until they cannot fit into their final pair of pants, drug addicts must be arrested or overdose or find themselves in some other version of Rock Bottom before they'll seek treatment. Almost everyone finished their grade school reports the night before they were due growing up and the vast majority of tax returns get processed and submitted after March 15th each year - many closer to April 15th.
And so we need a trigger to put us on the road to all of these potential benefits. We need to feel as though time is running out and that another five years of national debate is no longer possible. We need a shock or a scare so that development-friendly legislation pours forth from the states and from DC, the epicenter of dithering while the hourglass runs out.
And where, you may ask, will that shock or scare originate? Look no further than the Holocaust-denying piece of human garbage who runs Iran along with the troglodyte Mullahs at whose pleasure he serves. It is a given that at some point soon, possibly upon the fall of their idiot cousins running Syria, that they will do something destructive and stupid. They almost can't help themselves. Perhaps they instigate a naval battle with US ships or commit an incursion into a neighboring country or attempt a blockade of Hormuz or test a nuke in the desert...I am not an expert on the glidepath of Iran's madness, but I can only assume that they'll not be satisfied to remain quiet while the dictatorships around them crumble one by one.
They will make a move, and when they do, the price of oil will go absolutely crazy. Perhaps we'll see a move back to the old highs in the 120's - or even scarier, a sustained move higher that doesn't budge regardless of the inevitable drop in demand it would engender.
Economies around the world would feel the pressure, but none as acutely as the United States. We are Consumer A, One Nation Under the Sunroof. There is no doubt that $5 at the pump would wreak havoc, lead to finger-pointing and cause losses as far as the eye can see across the financial-industrial horizon.
And then - and only then - will we look at the potential of our own indigenous assets and capabilities. And that's when the revolution begins. That's when the rusty, long-slumbering mechanical wheels in this country begin creaking back to life. That's when the cobwebs are torn away and our best, brightest and hardest-working come alive again with a brand new purpose and vision for their skill and determination. That's when we get up off our asses and remake this broken energy policy of ours to the benefit of us all and the detriment of all of them.
Ahmadinejad can make a move here and spike the price of oil, but if he does so it will reveal him to be a checkers player. Because this is chess, and a move or two later he will be shown the full brunt force of what he's finally unleashed.
Domestic natural gas development is not a silver bullet and we all understand that it comes with risks of its own - but think of the reward. The further Ahmadinejad pushes us towards this, the faster we can begin to put him out of business, slowly but certainly with enough time and innovation.
Let him drink his fucking oil and choke on it.
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The Reformed Broker is a blog about financial markets and the economy. Joshua Brown is a New York City-based investment advisor for high net worth individuals, charitable foundations, retirement plans and corporations... More.