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Morris Beschloss: The Beschloss Perspective
Most energy analysts have been surprised by the recent price climb of West Texas Intermediate crude oil to more than $100 per barrel. Since U.S. demand, which reflects the domestically extracted “light crude,” traditionally generates its lowest prices in the winter months, historically annual prices dropped accordingly in 2013, during which prices averaged from the low to middle $90s.
Although hydraulic fracturing (fracking) has engendered the possibility of shale-produced oil and natural gas, vaulting the United States into the world’s No. 1 spot in fossil-fuel production (oil, coal, natural gas), prestigious financial weekly Barron’s now estimates up to $1 trillion in capital-goods spending will be generated to make this happen by 2025.
While the 2014 economic year is in its infancy, there are a number of positive factors indicating the current year will be the strongest comeback year since the end of the recent Great Recession and have the makeup of strong diversified economic elements.
This column often delves deep into all aspects of the United States’ energy revolution as it carves a path to practical independence in the next decade. But we seem to have been relatively isolated by other analysts who ignore the massive upward climb in refined derivative exports, which surged past 3 million barrels a day in 2013. That output is expected to reach an incredible 5 million barrels a day by the end of the decade.
In the wake of the arm wrestling between President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on one hand and House Speaker John Boehner and the GOP on the other, this exaggerated government “shutdown crisis” will have little, if any influence on the 2014 U.S. economy.
What is becoming increasingly clear is that the nation’s booming fossil-fuel energy activity is not only exceeding all recent records in this arena, but cloaking general industrial activity (manufacturing, mining, utilities) shortfalls at levels still well under the degree of industrial production and capacity utilization reached prior to the 2008-10 Great Recession.
For most of the past decade, the well-being of the global economy, especially in the wake of the Great Recession, has been expected due to the presence of the BRICS nations of Brazil, Russia, India, China and lately South Africa.
According to the latest statistics relating to the nation’s wholesale inventory values, there has been a notable shrinkage in the amount and value of stock retained by this critical factor in the United States’ distribution channel, considered the outstanding network of its kind anywhere in the world.
For a nation that carries the greatest net worth ever generated by a historically dominant economic entity, the United States’ dilapidated overall infrastructure comes close to resembling that of second-tier countries struggling to catch up with the 21st century by leapfrogging the 20th.
America’s amazing outburst as the potential global energy leader already is becoming the surprising success story in an otherwise drab economic scenario.