Putting the country first

I have been listening to good friends exchange e-mails recently on a variety of topics that include Obama versus McCain and the realities or otherwise of global warming. What has struck and dismayed me greatly is that there is no search in all of this for common ground. Instead, each is simply lopping bombs from their side over an unbridgeable fence. I find myself agreeing wholeheartedly with Fareed Zakaria’s quotation of David Gergen in Newsweek June 16, 2008 in which he says, “With the end of the cold war, we saw a new, destructive kind of partnership and for much of the past decade, we’ve kicked the can down the road on our big problems . . . I have a distinct memory that the World War II generation really put country ahead of party. That is simply not the case with the generation in power now.” As Zakaria says, compromise is hard and we are just not attempting, even among good friends, to work at it- for the sake of the country.

What’s driving oil prices?

Saw a fascinating squib on TV today with a fellow filling up a dozen gas tanks in order to beat the rising price of gas and driving off with all these plastic, orange containers on the back of this truck. That was followed by a slightly more organized version in which people purchased gas from a dealer and stored it in his tanks from which they could later draw. One fellow was laying out something like $10,000 to protect himself against future rises in price. And, of course, be engaging in this hoarding behavior these folks are guaranteeing that they will see the price rise that they expect. Once people expect inflation to occur, then as day follows night inflation will follow.

We are led to believe that this hoarding behavior is taking place on a very large scale, involving international speculators who are trading in oil rather than dollars. The US buys goods from China and pays for those goods in dollars. Historically, China then invests those dollars in US government securities where they have earned a good rate of interest. Now the Fed has slashed that interest rate and on top of that the dollar is in a free fall. So, a better place for China to put its dollars is to use them to buy oil today and take delivery of it in the future. This has turned oil into a currency effectively and its inherently hoarding effect is causing the price of oil to rise, which is exactly what the speculator wants to happen – when invested in oil – and fears happening — if not invested in oil.

Where is the world going?

The world is forever changing and the older generation is forever complaning about the younger generation. So what’s new? Or, is there something new in the air? Is the status quo in the process of changing? And is it changing in ways that will hurt those currently at the top? America has had a long run – in modern terms – as the top dog in the world economy. Is that coming to an end? Will it end smoothly? Or will there be an abrupt rupture in which a lot of people of get hurt? Of course, lowering American’s standard of living is not exactly the end of the world although it will be the end of the world as Americans see it. Will Asia take over from where America left off? WIll they build a better world? Or, and this is the “hell”scenario, will our insatiable appetite for carbon-based energy fuel so much global, climate instability that much of the world becomes uninhabitable. These thought float in the back of my head and in the coming weeks and months, I plan to tease out what I think we know about various pieces of this puzzle. Your thoughts are always welcome.

Is the world going to hell?

The world is forever changing and the older generation is forever complaning about the younger generation. So what’s new? Or, is there something new in the air? Is the status quo in the process of changing? And is it changing in ways that will hurt those currently at the top? America has had a long run – in modern terms – as the top dog in the world economy. Is that coming to an end? Will it end smoothly? Or will there be an abrupt rupture in which a lot of people of get hurt? Of course, lowering American’s standard of living is not exactly the end of the world although it will be the end of the world as Americans see it. Will Asia take over from where America left off? WIll they build a better world? Or, and this is the “hell”scenario, will our insatiable appetite for carbon-based energy fuel so much global, climate instability that much of the world become uninhabitable. These thought float in the back of my head and in the coming weeks and months, I plan to tease out what I think we know abouit various pieces of this puzzle. Your thoughts are always welcome.