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BP Shuts Down Oilfield

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    BP Shuts Down Oilfield


    BP shuts largest U.S. oil field due to damaged pipeline - Aug. 7, 2006

    New worry for drivers: BP shuts oilfield
    Damaged pipeline in Alaska affects about 8% of U.S. oil production.


    August 7 2006: 8:34 AM EDT

    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- In a blow to drivers already struggling with high gasoline prices, BP was forced to shut off about 8 percent of the nation's oil supply after discovering "unexpectedly severe corrosion" in the Alaskan pipeline.

    BP announced early Monday that the pipeline problems had caused it to begin the first shutdown ever in the biggest oilfield in the United States, Alaska's Prudhoe Bay.

    U.S. light crude surged $1.13 to $75.89 a barrel in electronic trading early Monday, while Brent crude trading in London rose 99 cents to $77.16. Gasoline futures rose 3.85 cents to $2.27 a gallon.

    Oil analyst Peter Beutel, president of Cameron Hanover, said shutting down an oil field is an expensive and risky step that is only taken in extreme circumstances. He said that suggests the 400,000 barrels a day produced in Prudhoe Bay could be shut off for some time to come.

    "They wouldn't be shutting down Prudhoe Bay if this wasn't absolutely necessary," said Beutel. "Once you shut it down, you don't know what will happen when you come back. It could cause all types of problems."

    Beutel said he expects about a 5 cent a gallon rise in gasoline futures due to the pipeline problems.

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    2.27 a gallon. I wish it was that much. Were over 3.15 in good ol Fresburg, Ca.

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    Ugh...that is awful.
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    Doesn't matter to them...if the supply goes down they push the price up and - surprise - record profits.

    We are screwed.
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    News like this makes me insanely glad that I only have a 3 minute drive to get to work. Gas where I live is $1.15 a litre right now, you Americans don't realize how good you have it when it comes to gas prices!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack of Shadows
    Doesn't matter to them...if the supply goes down they push the price up and - surprise - record profits.

    We are screwed.
    If the supply goes down the price will go up to curb consumption. This means no shortages which is a good thing. The prices are set freely on the market like the prices of all other commodities. Oil companies cannot make profits simply by spiking prices without any change in supply or demand. If they do so their total revenue goes down, not up. If there is no concurrent significant drop in cost from the lower production their profits would go down, not up. The profits they do make are the incentive for BP and every other oil company to bring more product to market. This is also a good thing. That they might have difficulty bring such product to market would tend to make the demand schedule more inflexible, which would contribute to a price rise. Oil companies do not make it more difficult to bring their own product to the market, the government does. That a lack of alternatives exists would also tend to lead to inflexibility in demand and a rise in prices. Once more this is the fault of the government with its myriad restrictions on what gas can be sold where and when.

    The reason some insane CEO can't come in and spike Wonder Bread prices is because so long as there is even one competitor out there the market will be more flexible. And so long as entry into the market is relatively easy potential competition lends flexibility to the market. It is the government that artificially destroyed the fungible nature of gas. It is the government that made entry into the field hard and costly as hell, giving protection to existing firms at the expense of consumer choice and lower prices.
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    Do rising prices really have that much of an impact on overall consumption? I'd be interested in seeing sales figures versus sales cost to verify what trend that has. We as North Americans love our cars, and with so many people reliant on motor vehicles for transportation I really can't see a rise in gasoline prices cutting consumption that drastically.
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    Quote Originally Posted by max silver
    Do rising prices really have that much of an impact on overall consumption? I'd be interested in seeing sales figures versus sales cost to verify what trend that has. We as North Americans love our cars, and with so many people reliant on motor vehicles for transportation I really can't see a rise in gasoline prices cutting consumption that drastically.
    They don't have to be drastic. By definition if the price goes up fewer people will buy, or everyone will buy less or some combo of the two. Anything else assumes a perfectly inflexible demand curve which is impossible. The fall in consumption is not important. The fall in total revenue relative to cost is what matters. By definition, excluding any government intervention to cap prices some how, prices will always fall within the flexible portion of the demand schedule where the greatest difference between total revenue and cost can be found.

    Put simply the tendency is to maximize profits not prices. If you can lower your price and sell more and recoup the additional cost of production+ you will, meaning the price will go down naturally. If you can raise prices and people will buy only a slightly lower amount you will do so because the rise in price (usually) means less production cost and so higher profits. So prices always tend to be pushed to that point where selling more at a lower price and less at a higher price leads to a decrease in profits, or a smaller difference between total revenue and cost. So the really relevant figures when addressing prices are costs and how they scale with an increase or decrease in production and what total revenue at any given price point will be. You can know the former but not the latter, that has to be discovered.

    Now why weren't these guys charging up the wazoo all the time? I recall a time not so far past when gas prices were very low. If it were possible to simply raise prices on a whim and make more money, why didn't they do that then? This a relatively screwed up situation because the government is involved at all levels doing seemingly contradictory things. At the very least the cost of regulation compliance gets passed on to consumers. All told though what they're doing inevitably leads to a more inflexible demand for gas. If they make it real cheap our economy expands but they can't fight market pressure forever. Making gas cheap means inevitably the price will adjust upwards and probably quite dramatically. What's more, making its uses very regionally and temporally specific means substitutes are harder to come by and so demand becomes inflexible, meaning a price rise is inevitable. Remember, when demand is inflexible it means prices can be rasied without losing too many sales, and they will be raised in such a way naturally. It's not out of spite, doing anything else leads to inefficient resource uses or loss of potential profits.

    All told in no other market can CEOs simply spike prices and make massive profits. Competition prevents it. If they can do it with oil/gas the government has caused the situation or somehow enabled them. No matter how dependent we are on oil you have to realize a couple things: we are just as dependent on a lot of other things, computers for example, yet CEOs can't simply raise those prices. If Dell decided to double their prices tomorrow Gateway would sell more and Dell would be in the can. If they tried to collude other manufacturers could make out and get market share the other two lost. They would also most likely still try to compete with each other in secret which would mean the relatively quick end of any attempt at collusion. Unless of course the government some how enables the collusion.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that gas should be fungible, should be easily substituted, should be easily reallocated to make up for increased demand here or there. If you look at the price of any other commodity as universally used and demanded it tends to regularize in relevant trading areas. While there are differences regionally in the price of bread, they aren't that pronounced and are almost always very low unless you're buying some specialty stuff with perceived higher value. Yet gas prices are extremely variable across the country. The only thing that can cause that kind of variance is regulation, restrictions that lead to drastic differences in regional costs.

    Now I'm no fan of oil companies, like every other business they're always begging for a government hand job that should be denied. But in the end that's the point. If they are taking advantage of consumers then the government is enabling them to do so.
    Last edited by CDB; 08-07-2006 at 04:57 PM.
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    CDB - my man!!

    Just to illustrate what he said - in 1999 gas was like 75-90 cents per gallon in much of the South. Oil companies were making 5-8 billion.
    Now - gas is $3 and profits are 25-40 billion.

    What the hell?!?!?!? Why didn't they just go and raise prices in 1999? Did someone forget?

    I've said it once on this board - I'll say it again - YOU PEOPLE are retarded.
    Don't go making statements of fact about oil companies and profits.
    You will inevitably be wrong.


    Max - the recent increase in prices hasn't seemed to change gasoline consumption last time I saw the data. Folks just adjusted and stopped eating out as often - but they still are making unnecessary trips and driving retarded SUV's that get 4 mpg (note - I drive a car that gets 30 mpg on the interstate/22 in the city).
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    Supply and demand doesn't work as freely with OPEC as it does with Wonder bread unfortunately. Although it is a crazed market that, for the most part, fuels the fires of oil increase.

    Although, the oil market seems to be one of few that like to come out and so freely announce problems it may have and shutdowns that have to occur.
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    Jay,
    BP would have filed the leak with the state DEQ. Analysts know how to get that information, I'd guess.
    I think BP would also have to notify the ADEQ of the shutdowns - as that would lead to flaring.

    Stuff gets out.
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    Oh I know officially but how many corps are getting busted from hiding their real assets and debt etc? My point is that if the leaks and downtimes and oil shortages had a negative impact on their wealth as much as something like shortages in something else did. It wouldn't find its way out so easily.

    But I guess that's more of a topic lined with tin foil. I guess I just don't trust big business.
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    Oh I know officially but how many corps are getting busted from hiding their real assets and debt etc? My point is that if the leaks and downtimes and oil shortages had a negative impact on their wealth as much as something like shortages in something else did. It wouldn't find its way out so easily.
    I don't understand.

    Of course a downtime impacts profit - it's less product.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    Supply and demand doesn't work as freely with OPEC as it does with Wonder bread unfortunately. Although it is a crazed market that, for the most part, fuels the fires of oil increase.
    Supply and demand works the same no matter what. OPEC puts a restriction on supply no doubt, but the same rules apply to the environment and prices are set in the same way given that supply.

    Although, the oil market seems to be one of few that like to come out and so freely announce problems it may have and shutdowns that have to occur.
    Because if prices just went up people would have kittens. It's called keeping people informed so they don't flip out and, oh I don't know, blame greedy CEOs for price increases.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    Oh I know officially but how many corps are getting busted from hiding their real assets and debt etc?
    Not many relative to the amount of corps on the market.

    But I guess that's more of a topic lined with tin foil. I guess I just don't trust big business.
    When it's linked with the government you shouldn't. When it's left free of government hinderance and government 'help' you can trust they'll bend over backward to get your dollar voluntarily. No one believes, nor should they, that corporations are headed by angels with the purest of intentions. It's just that left to their own devices and absent government enabling they can't do anything to get you money except offer you a better product.

    Now if what jmh said is correct and consumption hasn't dropped all that much then we're dealing with a situation where the government has managed to push the price into the inflexible range of the schedule, either by forcing cheap gas and allowing an economic expansion and infrastructure to develop around it or through a more direct price controling policy. Either way this is not the kind of thing that tends to happen when the market is left to its own devices. Current demand and future speculation tends to smooth out price fluctuations over time in other areas, oil as been screwed to the point where that doesn't work anymore.

    In a way it's similar to national forrests as a resource. Some of those forrests get logged out completely, others sit there and rot and become fire hazards, and no one owns much if any of it so there's no long term interest in preserving the capital value of the resources. As a result they are either neglected or overused.

    But bottom line is a rise in gas prices, if it were the result of corporate greed, would have happened a long time ago. No one was complaining when those same CEOs had companies offering gas at less than a dollar per gallon and some how no CEO said, "Hey, let's spike the price and make billions!" Why? Because it just doesn't work that way.

    Now OPEC is a problem, but that's once more a government org. Not our government org, but a state creature none the less. The answer isn't more goverment. To offset any power they have we need less government and to unleash our own companies and let them get oil elsewhere.
    Last edited by CDB; 08-08-2006 at 08:50 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    .... It's just that left to their own devices and absent government enabling they can't do anything to get you money except offer you a better product.....
    Sorry. But that is simply false. That is Utopia. Just ask Ralph Nader where he got his millions $$ Also, remember the Ford Pinto case? Do a search on topics such as consumer fraud, product liability, tort, mal-practice etc etc etc. Unfortunately, not every businessman/woman went to Economics school.

    I have recently been involved in the management of 2 restaurants, and have also witnessed 2 other cases of health inspection of restaurants. Those operators gave new meaning to cutting corner. lol I have stopped eating out, except at the high end restaurants, for sanitary reason. On the good side, I am rather convinced that the human body is very resilient to dirt, chemicals and contamination. Else there would be lots of health catastrophy among the restaurant patrons. It would definitely be disastrous, if not for the deligent work of your local health inspectors.

    At least in the restaurant business, we need MORE STRINGENT regulation and ENFORCEMENT. Not less. I am sure there are dumb regulations and bureacratic interferences in our society. But to state that 'absent government enabling they can't do anything', except ONLY resort to compete via better products and better services, is free market utopia. Unrealistic and does not reflect reality. It also implies that corporate wrong doings are ENABLED by government interference. That is also not reflecting reality.

    If anything, it is govenment enabling, that promotes competition based on better products and better services. Not the other way around. Where there is problem the system, the solution is not eliminating government. The solution is BETTER government.


    But what do I know... I didn't goto Journalism school...
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    Ok.. This is a pre-emptive vaccination against a very possible long and tedious rebuttal/argument that I would very likely not inclined to decipher and chew on.

    CDB's idealistic free market utopia works IF AND ONLY IF, consumers have perfect information regarding the goods and services they purchase. Since we all know that assumption, perfect information, is unrealistic pie in the sky, there goes the whole thing.

    To illustrate the obvious. Take Vioxx. Without government to establish and enforce a set of rules and regulations, then a lot of consumers would have to die, before the problem with the drug is known, IF at all. If the consumers have perfect information, yeah sure, we don't need government to implement a system to detect, monitor and bring forth the information.

    When consumers have perfect information, then businesses would have no choice but to resort to compete based on the merits of their products and services. Because, the consumers would know everything that is not kosher. But we all know perfect information is another pie in the sky.



    P.S. For those who still think that all our problems are the result of the goverment we have, then I say, GO EAST, BRO! To China! The Wild Wild East!! Everything there is for sale. Laws and regulations are subjected to negotiation, connection, interpretation and the rather binding arbitration by the mighty Green $$. Welcome to modern day robber-barron capitalism. Little to no government regulation. Whatever interferences can be 'greased' away with the mighty Green $$ (HK$ would work too) Oddly, the people there, are crying out for rules and regulations and enforcement, to protect the consumers...

    P.S.S. Don't forget to hit up BK for tips on where to get nice cheap suits.
  18. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazzard
    Sorry. But that is simply false. That is Utopia. Just ask Ralph Nader where he got his millions $$ Also, remember the Ford Pinto case? Do a search on topics such as consumer fraud, product liability, tort, mal-practice etc etc etc. Unfortunately, not every businessman/woman went to Economics school.
    They don't have to, nor is it a utopian point of view, no more so than the idea that the government can protect people from such incidents. It's simply a matter of incentives. Because the system is based on people there will always be mistakes whether the market is free or totally socialized. The incentives to correct such mistakes and to not let them happen to begin with are greater in the free market because they are in the end the result of consumer demand, and my guess is most consumers would rather not die or be hurt.

    Contrarily the government knowingly put infants in danger when it required air bags and disallowed off switches for them. GM had presented evidence for the danger air bags presented to small people and kids. It was dismissed. Nor is there any move to offer cars without air bags now, even though it should be an option for various reasons. Not the least of which I suspect is the added cost of fixing an air bag equipped car over one that isn't equipped with airbags. The consumer shoulders more costs and the insurance companies and auto makers pull in more through hidden costs. I would never argue that the free market would produce a utopia where no one ever dies or gets hurt intentionally or unintentionally. It is just better at minimizing those things than the government, especially over time and it is especially better at adapting to new situations and disregarding old standards in favor of new ones.

    The case of the Pinto is arguable to hell and back. Any trustworthy estimates of how many people died as the result of its design flaw are ridiculously low, and Ford doing the cost benefit analysis is, in the end, the only way to determine whether or not a safety feature or recall is worth it. Not to mention this cost benefit analysis was actually in response to the NHTSA focus on fuel system safety, and it was specific to roll over accidents, not rear impacts, and it was made regarding the whole industry, not just Ford.
    http://www.pointoflaw.com/articles/T...Pinto_Case.pdf

    It was the NHTSA's initiatives studying fuel system safety that led Ford to do the study, it was the NHTSA's definition of the worth of life that was used, and Ford was subsequently condemned for, it was the NHTSA's standards that allowed for the gas tank 'problem' which apparently killed around 30 people for a few million models on the road. I'm sure each one of those deaths mattered a lot to their loved ones, but in the end that doesn't seem like a level of safety and risk most people would define unacceptable. The NHTSA certainly thought so in their regs previous to '77.

    That being said, there are thousands of safety features and steps that could be taken to make cars and driving a lot safer than they are now. They are not taken because the costs of doing so are ridiculous considering the benefits. Why do we not limit the speed of all vehicles, or border all roads with cement walls that can withstand high speed impacts to protect civilians? These measures aren't taken because people do a cost benefit analysis and decide they are not worth it.

    Word of the Pinto's design did get out and the information was fairly common knowledge soon enough. NHTSA was changing its requirements seemingly nonstop during the years when the Pinto was introduced, and Ford did meet the government requirements. They accepted and used a previous set of standards while the NHTSA was developing new ones. The recall was to make all previous models comply with the '77 standards. If somebody needs to be blamed for the Pinto, why is it not the government who was and did lay down safety standards for the early years of Pinto production, standards which Ford did meet? Probably because lawyers like Nader spent years misinforming and outright lying about the situation and the public, gullible as ever, ate it all up.

    I have recently been involved in the management of 2 restaurants, and have also witnessed 2 other cases of health inspection of restaurants. Those operators gave new meaning to cutting corner. lol
    So they are not complying with government standards and the government has not enforced those standards and that is therefore the fault of... the free market. Good reasoning, I follow it all the way.

    At least in the restaurant business, we need MORE STRINGENT regulation and ENFORCEMENT. Not less. I am sure there are dumb regulations and bureacratic interferences in our society. But to state that 'absent government enabling they can't do anything', except ONLY resort to compete via better products and better services, is free market utopia.
    No, it is not. I guess there are some people who would rather kill their customers as long as they made a quick buck off of them. If however these deaths were the result of negligence or recklessness, even in a free market that is prosecutable on a criminal level. And there are also civil remedies to such situations. And even absent those incentives I find it hard to believe such businesses with a consistently and mostly dead customer base would survive very long. Corpses don't make many return visits. It is utopian to think the government is the only and best way to avoid such things in fact, not to mention naive as you flat out stated that the government isn't doing anything to enforce their so called safety regulations in two situations you are personally aware of. The world of the free market is by no means perfect. It is simply better than the government alternative. Better in its ability to accomodate all people's value scales, better at adjusting to shifts in consumer desires, and better at producing consistently improving results.

    Unrealistic and does not reflect reality. It also implies that corporate wrong doings are ENABLED by government interference. That is also not reflecting reality.
    See the works of George Stiggler, Dominick Armentano, Thomas DiLorenzo, Karen De Coster, Adam Young, Gene Callahan, etc. for demonstrations otherwise. By definition in the free market all exchanges are voluntary, acts of coersion are illegal The only way a corporation in those circumstances can hurt you against your will in any way is through government enabling and force. Likewise in our current system where property rights and self ownership are supposedly respected, the only way a corporation can hurt you against your will is through government enabling.

    If anything, it is govenment enabling, that promotes competition based on better products and better services. Not the other way around. Where there is problem the system, the solution is not eliminating government. The solution is BETTER government.
    See the above authors again. Stiggler, Armentano and DiLorenzon in particular have a lot of documentation as to just how wonderfully the government makes competition 'better'. Sarcasm aside the government cannot by definition enable competition, nor can it make better products. To do so it would have to be subject to some kind of profit loss test to see whether people would voluntarily pay for the 'better' products, which it isn't and can't be subject to. There is no such thing as better government because it is by definition a consumer of productivity that does not reliably produce anything itself. That something productive and useful comes out of its existence is likely, what that may be is indeterminable.

    As for the private sector providing safety, below is a list of such organizations.

    Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (physicians)
    Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care, American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (health care facilities)
    American Gem Society, Gemological Institute of America (jewelry)
    American National Standards Institute (standards-developing organizations)
    Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute
    Consumer Reports (everything under the sun)
    Consumers CHECKBOOK (everything under the sun, including federal employees’ health plans)
    Good Housekeeping Institute & Good Housekeeping Seal Directory (consumer products)
    HealthGrades, WebMD, Subimo (physicians, hospitals, and nursing homes)
    Insurance Marketplace Standards Association
    Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers’ Institute (firearms, ammunition, and components)
    Underwriters Laboratories (the big cheese; thousands of potentially dangerous products, including dozens that you use every day)
    United States Pharmacopeia Drug Information (”off-label” uses of pharmaceuticals)
    Worstpills.org (information on pharmaceuticals for those who think the FDA’s standards are too lax)
  19. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazzard
    CDB's idealistic free market utopia works IF AND ONLY IF, consumers have perfect information regarding the goods and services they purchase. Since we all know that assumption, perfect information, is unrealistic pie in the sky, there goes the whole thing.
    Perfect information is a prerequisite for any and all utopias. I have not suggested a utopia, I've suggested that absent the ability to use government force for protection or coersion that corporations are much more limited in their ability to do harm. Perfect information is in fact one of the assumptions underlying the mathematical models used to model perfect competition which are used to justify the idea that the government can enable competition and protect consumers from monopolies, a point of view you seem to have advocated in your previous post here, so it would seem knowingly or unknowingly you're the one advocating for a society which has this condition, not me. Austrian economists never assume perfect information, and never assume ex ante judgements will be the same as ex post judgements. The bottom line axiom is that people will act purposefully to improve their situation in life, and it's those actions that give rise to economic systems, systems of law and morality, etc.

    To illustrate the obvious. Take Vioxx. Without government to establish and enforce a set of rules and regulations, then a lot of consumers would have to die, before the problem with the drug is known, IF at all. If the consumers have perfect information, yeah sure, we don't need government to implement a system to detect, monitor and bring forth the information.
    With government to enforce and establish rules a lot of potential consumers have to die or endure extreme pain while waiting for drug approval. The costs of the regulations you seem to approve of seem to be on the same level as your claimed costs of the free market. However in the free market people have the choice to take that pill or not, whether or not the government approves. And, the list of private safety organizations previously given belies the idea that the government is the only entity capable of delivering such services. There's even one for dietery supplements ConsumerLab.com - independent tests of herbal, vitamin, and mineral supplements. The government is merely the only entity which can force people to abide by its rules, for better or worse, and thus the only entity which can deny people the choice to take a risk.

    Now I do not doubt there are those people who only want to take the most rigirously tested and approved medications. There are also those who, having their death at hand, or who are dealing with extreme pain, who might want to accept a higher level of risk for potential cures and pain relief. They are denied that choice in this current system, the one you apparently approve of. Those who involuntarily suffer and die while waiting have to be accounted for too.

    P.S. For those who still think that all our problems are the result of the goverment we have, then I say, GO EAST, BRO! To China! The Wild Wild East!! Everything there is for sale. Laws and regulations are subjected to negotiation, connection, interpretation and the rather binding arbitration by the mighty Green $$. Welcome to modern day robber-barron capitalism.
    Actually several authors, including Hans-Herman Hoppe, would point out that it is precisely the Chinese government's actions that have created this environment, not leastwise through legal inflation which has very much the same effect as monetary inflation, a devaluation of the 'currency' or laws in the this case. But this is in the end a complete straw man. The free market does not mean everyone goes and does whatever they want, nor does it mean a libertine society where the most disgusting whims are taken to extremes.

    The free market means protection of private property, both in one's person and material possessions, and the protection of the right to engage in voluntary exchanges and actions so long as you don't violate someone else's equal and opposite right to do the same. Conditions which do not exist to any significant degree in China which make it irrelevant. China as a Communist government in fact is the ultimate violator of the conditions for a free market, in that Communism by definition asserts a collective ownership (oligarchal in practice) over all property. To point to a society founded on the violation of the very thing which makes a free market work, private property, as an example of a free market failing is rather strange.
    Last edited by CDB; 08-08-2006 at 04:52 PM.
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    What a winded read this was. Scholastic achievments and records of history past used to protect or shape ones perception of realiity. Man has always been man. Technology and time changes very little. Easier access and faster distribution of material and or information. Things are truly simple in nature as man is himself as well. We try to muddy waters with so called intelligent views and vision of honest men and deeds. But we all must aknowledge that man is his own worst enemy. Give him the opportunity to pervert or abuse and he will. Need we list the 7 deadly sins as some percieve? Who amongst you refuse to aknowledge the gross neglect of our humanity. Our profit at all costs attitude of corporate America, which by the way is no longer bound by our borders but by the acceptance of Monies in one form or another. Do not be so shallow to only see what they choose to let you see. To measure only what they give you to measure with. Listen to no government that tells you they are your answer and salvation to all. Freedom is LESS government never more. When and where did we stop caring for ourselves. The average farmer or man understands he must live in a real world. Buy from a neighbor and sell to a friend. Honor your alliances and respect your customers. Fair price for a fair deal. In the name of money our world crumbles before us. There is no government of this world that has stood the test of time. Every one has fallen.

    I think it best summed up by -Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887. 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.'

    No amount of money or education changes wrong into right. History has proven only, they that win get to write the history book.

    In a nutshell it is never as it appears and almost always is corrupt when monies are involved.

    Pessimist?? No just a realist....
  21. CDB
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    Is it necessary for me to point out once more that "profit at all costs" is not what the free market is defined as? The free market is defined as a system which respects, preserves and enforces private property rights and in which the laws are aimed at restricting coercive acts, not voluntary ones. Need I also point out, again, that government protection is usually begged for by corporations and that on the whole they would not want a free market to prevail because it means the loss of a relatively safe and managed market? When most people argue against the free market they are actually making a great case against industrial mercantilism or state capitalism because they don't know or choose not to perceive the difference between those two systems and a free market.

    As for "monies" corrupting people, the only people I see getting corrupted by money is the government, and it's actually them corrupting the money for their own ends, and everyone else getting screwed in gradually increasing degrees until you reach the ultimately screwed person, the individual laborer. Left to their own devices "monies" are no more capable of corrupting someone than toasters are because that's all money is, a commodity. It's just extremely easy to sell money for other commodities, that's one of the reasons why it becomes money or a general medium of exchange to begin with.

    As for being winded, the economy can't be summed up in a sound bite unless you take an extremely simplistic and to be blunt incorrect view of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Smoky
    What a winded read this was. Scholastic achievments and records of history past used to protect or shape ones perception of realiity. Man has always been man. Technology and time changes very little. Easier access and faster distribution of material and or information. Things are truly simple in nature as man is himself as well. We try to muddy waters with so called intelligent views and vision of honest men and deeds. But we all must aknowledge that man is his own worst enemy. Give him the opportunity to pervert or abuse and he will. Need we list the 7 deadly sins as some percieve? Who amongst you refuse to aknowledge the gross neglect of our humanity. Our profit at all costs attitude of corporate America, which by the way is no longer bound by our borders but by the acceptance of Monies in one form or another. Do not be so shallow to only see what they choose to let you see. To measure only what they give you to measure with. Listen to no government that tells you they are your answer and salvation to all. Freedom is LESS government never more. When and where did we stop caring for ourselves. The average farmer or man understands he must live in a real world. Buy from a neighbor and sell to a friend. Honor your alliances and respect your customers. Fair price for a fair deal. In the name of money our world crumbles before us. There is no government of this world that has stood the test of time. Every one has fallen.

    I think it best summed up by -Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887. 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.'

    No amount of money or education changes wrong into right. History has proven only, they that win get to write the history book.

    In a nutshell it is never as it appears and almost always is corrupt when monies are involved.

    Pessimist?? No just a realist....
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    just what I am afraid... A more concise response would be nice... Wishful thinking on my part..

    So... whatever... Doesn't make any difference anyway.

    If you don't mind my asking, just what industry or sector do you work in, CDB?
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    In all honesty, i've seen enough in my life to know that there's always a bigger picture and looking at one slice will always lead to a wrong perspective of the situation.

    Having said that. I'm also stubborn as hell at times and just want to be pissed at someone or something and in this case it's the oil companies.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    In all honesty, i've seen enough in my life to know that there's always a bigger picture and looking at one slice will always lead to a wrong perspective of the situation.

    Having said that. I'm also stubborn as hell at times and just want to be pissed at someone or something and in this case it's the oil companies.
    You are right about the first part. I too think there is something else going on. It is very simple. The supply demand factors in the US haven't fluctuated that much as to warrant a spike from $25 to $75.

    I don't know if this is an coincident or there is some causal effect.. Global strategic petroleum reserves - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ".... According to a March 2001 agreement, all 26 members of the International Energy Agency must have a strategic petroleum reserve equal to 90 days of oil imports for their respective country..." Note the time line.... I really doubt the other nations are not doing what the Japanese are doing, ie not telling the truth about their SR.

    The Chinese have been saber rousing about fighting the Americans all the time, and they recognized (or publicly acknowledged that, as reported in local newspaper) that they wouldn't be able to survive for 2 weeks if the US blocks off the South East Asian sea route. That was the amount of oil they had. So, they have been hell bent on building up strategic reserve ever since. Otherwise, all the talk about fighting of the American Pacific fleets over Taiwan, would just make them laughing stock. Now, the westerners don't give a hoot about this kind of BS. But in that part of the world, national pride is the stuff to die for. They care about sh1t that we don't care about.

    And coincidently, crude prices have been climbing ever since.

    People like to think that supply demand always sets the right price and pricing level is always rational. But anyone who has being in the stock market or in the real world, knows that pricing levels can often get into the stratosphere as a result of human emotion. That is why you have the boom burst cycles in both economic activities as well as asset pricing.

    Oil prices are ripe for manipulation and have alwasy been artificially manipulated to different degree. Sometimes the factors are there to make large degree of manipulation possible. My suspicion is that the building up of SR by various nations, created the extra demand factor that allows oil producing nations to make the most of the situation, for their own benefits. (IF you are paranoid about the survival of your nation, you would be hell bend on buying up crude for strategic reserve, irrespective of what the price is. Heck, it gets worse. If you don't pay up for the crude your nation needs to survive, the prices are going up! And your boss the dictators, would have your ass!)


    I don't think the oil companies are culpable or even able to force prices up. But oil producing nations? That is a horse with a different color.
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    Supply and demand in its purest form and unaltered would be fine but realistically it isn't unaltered or pure. Corruption and misinformation throw it off.

    Communism in its purest form is considered utopia right But in practice it never works.
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    Like an old Gum Shoe once said, "Follow the Money"
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    Supply and demand in its purest form and unaltered would be fine but realistically it isn't unaltered or pure. Corruption and misinformation throw it off.

    Communism in its purest form is considered utopia right But in practice it never works.
    Exactly. (Why didn't I post that?!) That is why economics models are good for studying..lol

    Look, we all know demand for petroleum is not elastic. People are going to have to commute to work, to school etc etc. You need to buy gas whether it is $1.50 or $3.15 . There is a certain amount of gas you simply have to buy, until you have gone out of your way to make life style changes. But until then, you are at the mercy of the oil producers. Now, if you have abundant supplies then as a buyer, you have negotiating power. But when the capacity is at or near the max, then you are screwed. The producers will just jerk the price up till you drop dead. LOL You don't want the oil, well, no problem, the Chinese need it for their SR. See ya later, buddy. lol

    Let's face it. There is no serious shortage nor spike in US domestic demand. So why are gas prices going up so much? Well, crude is up. So, why is crude going up? Is there crude shortage anywhere that warrant the spike from $25 to $75? Is there a spike in demand to warrant such magnitude of increase? Show me. lol There is increase in international demand, but does that explain oil shooting up 3X?

    This is real life economics at work.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smoky
    Like an old Gum Shoe once said, "Follow the Money"
    The Gum Shoe spoke from real life experience. That is a very good advice. Follow the money and work backward. It works.
  29. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazzard
    People like to think that supply demand always sets the right price and pricing level is always rational. But anyone who has being in the stock market or in the real world, knows that pricing levels can often get into the stratosphere as a result of human emotion. That is why you have the boom burst cycles in both economic activities as well as asset pricing.
    There is no such thing as a "right" price or a "rational" price. Prices are the result of subjective valuations on the part of buyers and sellers.

    Oil prices are ripe for manipulation and have alwasy been artificially manipulated to different degree. Sometimes the factors are there to make large degree of manipulation possible. My suspicion is that the building up of SR by various nations, created the extra demand factor that allows oil producing nations to make the most of the situation, for their own benefits.
    That may be the case, it may be a major or minor contributor. In the end though that is a government directive and the result of government manipulation. In the free market speculation on futures is what smooths out price fluctuations and reallocates supply to the future, or conserves in other words.

    I don't think the oil companies are culpable or even able to force prices up. But oil producing nations? That is a horse with a different color.
    That's true, but in the end all that means is prices will adjust accordingly. And this is not a drive for profits, or if it is it is a sorrily misguided one, but a grab at power. Artificially pushing prices into an inflexible demand schedule means a loss of profits because if the commodity price is hovering there it almost always means it's possible to raise the price and take a small hit in total revenue and more than compensate for that loss with the decreased cost of production of the lower supply. Governments, lacking a profit loss test of any kind, can't ever find the equillibrium or market clearing price unless by pure chance and then only temporarily.
  30. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazzard
    just what I am afraid... A more concise response would be nice... Wishful thinking on my part..

    So... whatever... Doesn't make any difference anyway.

    If you don't mind my asking, just what industry or sector do you work in, CDB?
    Labor and staffing, mostly for commercial banks, some defense contractors and government agencies like Rolls Royce, the FBI and IRS, etc., and corporate communications systems.
  31. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayhawkk
    Supply and demand in its purest form and unaltered would be fine but realistically it isn't unaltered or pure. Corruption and misinformation throw it off.

    Communism in its purest form is considered utopia right But in practice it never works.
    Corruption generally should be faught in so much as it involves coersion. However imperfect information is natural and is part of the normal price system.
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    Well, i'm not too well versed in the actual mechanics so i'm not even going to attempt to debate that with you But I have definately learned quite a few things from you guys in the last few threads. And for that I thank ya.
  33. CDB
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazzard
    Look, we all know demand for petroleum is not elastic. People are going to have to commute to work, to school etc etc. You need to buy gas whether it is $1.50 or $3.15 . There is a certain amount of gas you simply have to buy, until you have gone out of your way to make life style changes. But until then, you are at the mercy of the oil producers. Now, if you have abundant supplies then as a buyer, you have negotiating power. But when the capacity is at or near the max, then you are screwed. The producers will just jerk the price up till you drop dead. LOL You don't want the oil, well, no problem, the Chinese need it for their SR. See ya later, buddy. lol.
    Not quite correct. The demand for any commodity can never be purely inelastic. That's a practical impossibility because it means price hikes to infinity will not affect consumption. What's more prices always, absent artificial intervention and even most of the time in spite of such intervention, rise to the top of the inelastic portion of consumer demand, or in other words prices rise to that point where, given current market conditions, a further price rise would lead to a loss in total revenue which wasn't compensated for with lower production costs.

    Let's face it. There is no serious shortage nor spike in US domestic demand. So why are gas prices going up so much? Well, crude is up. So, why is crude going up? Is there crude shortage anywhere that warrant the spike from $25 to $75? Is there a spike in demand to warrant such magnitude of increase? Show me. lol There is increase in international demand, but does that explain oil shooting up 3X?
    The US is not the market for oil, the world is. And right now there's a whole lot of fighting and unrest and uncertainty in the countries which produce a lot of the world's oil, not to mention increased demand and increased possiblity for future demand on the part of a few other large countries. Future predictions on price do affect current price valuations. If you owned a copper mine and predicted a shortage of copper you'd cut your production a bit now to take advantage of the higher price later. You'd bet on the future price rise. But, by cutting production now you'd also contribute to a price rise now. So instead of producing at a level that led to a market price of $2 per unit and then upping the price to $6 a unit once the shortage hit, the tendency in the market is to conserve through futures speculation, to hold some of the supply off the market. So instead of going from $2 to $6 the prices go from $2 to $3 to $4, or some other more gradual rise per unit rather than the mass fluctuations that would occur without such speculation. Some of the supply of copper is held off the market and reallocated to the future where people hope to make a bigger profit based on the more urgent demand, and this supply reallocation eases upward pressure on future prices.

    Last I had seen there was quite a bit of futures speculation going on in oil that was contributing significantly to the price hikes. People like O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs were condemning these speculators if I recall. But they aren't keeping that oil to swim in, they're keeping it in hopes of a higher profitin the future. So they're either right and if so that additional supply means prices will be lower in the future than they otherwise would have been, or if they're wrong their investment will tank and they'll unload as much as they can, causing a price fall as soon as the indicators that made them bet on a higher future price went south.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    Labor and staffing, mostly for commercial banks, some defense contractors and government agencies like Rolls Royce, the FBI and IRS, etc., and corporate communications systems.
    Personnel? Human Resources? That is Business school's territories. What's an economist doing in labor and staffing? Staffing is business school domain. It is beneath the economists..
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    There is no such thing as a "right" price or a "rational" price. Prices are the result of subjective valuations on the part of buyers and sellers.
    Price is what clear the market at that specific point in time. Rational price is what reflects the economic value of the underlying products.

    Sure it is the result of subjective valuation. That is just a text book definition of what price is. But in the real world, the rational price of a goods also reflects the true economic value, which if you want to get technical, is the present value of all the future cash flow, you can extract or derive from ownership of the goods. When speculative fever kicks in, prices of goods can be pushed beyond any economic value you can possibly extract from owning the good. It is still a subjective valuation. But it is no longer a rational price. That would be the boom in asset prices...eventually the burst will set in. It doesn't mean you cannot make money speculating on irrational prices. That is what is commonly known in the investment business as The Bigger Fool Theory. You buy something at outrageous price, in the hope that A Bigger Fool will buy it from you at an even higher irrational price. When there is no more Bigger Fools with money to fool, the House of Card comes crashing down. lol

    If you don't believe there are rational prices and irrational prices, then go invest/speculate in the stock market or the commodity market. You will quickly learn what a rational price for a stock is. lol


    That may be the case, it may be a major or minor contributor. In the end though that is a government directive and the result of government manipulation. In the free market speculation on futures is what smooths out price fluctuations and reallocates supply to the future, or conserves in other words.
    Go speculate in the futures market and see how it "smooths out price fluctuations and reallocates supply to the future, or conserves". You will be surprised that there is nothing smooth about price fluctuations in the futures market.

    You are describing how the futures market is theoretically supposed to work. That would be true, if and only if, hedging and speculating activities balance each other out. In reality, such equilibrium, much like any theoretical equilibrium in the world of economics, is seldom achieved even for the slightest duration, if at all. Most of the time, the futures market is predominated by speculation, ie people taking positions but with no underlying commodities or securities to hedge. Even the major trading houses make little distinction between speculation and hedging.

    The notion that futures market smooths out price fluctuations and reallocates supply, is only on paper. Well, actually, in cases where the trades are made for the purpose of hedging against future commitment, the futures markets do serve to an extremely useful purpose.

    Believe me, I would love to see the futures markets fulfilling their design objective, ie the hedging of price fluctuation, where hedging activities are balanced out by speculating activities.

    Rampant speculation does not smooth out price fluctuation nor allocates resources. Rampant speculation causes price volatility. It does serve one purpose, ie transfering wealth from the idiot speculators to the smart ones.


    That's true, but in the end all that means is prices will adjust accordingly. And this is not a drive for profits, or if it is it is a sorrily misguided one, but a grab at power. Artificially pushing prices into an inflexible demand schedule means a loss of profits because if the commodity price is hovering there it almost always means it's possible to raise the price and take a small hit in total revenue and more than compensate for that loss with the decreased cost of production of the lower supply. Governments, lacking a profit loss test of any kind, can't ever find the equillibrium or market clearing price unless by pure chance and then only temporarily.
    On Wall Street, there is this saying,"If the ducks quack, feed'em." People don't think in terms of what you talk about. If the customers want the crude, charge more till they can't afford to pay for it. As long as they want the goods, and are able and willing to pay for it, then charge them. Charge what the market can bear. (How the hell can you forget that maxim!! ) It is call negotiating power.

    Yes, it may be shortsighed and what not, but that is the way the world works. There was a time when OPEC would talk about keeping crude at around $25 a barrel, b/c that would maintain equilibrium, blahblahblah... Yeah right.. lol As soon as the ducks start quacking.....

    Sure, high crude prices will eventually force changes in life style and eventually reduce demand for crude. Yeah well, then you would think the oil producers would fight tooth to nail to keep oil prices low, b/c afterall they don't want to cut their own throat. But nooooo.... prices are going up and they are not passing that up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    Not quite correct. The demand for any commodity can never be purely inelastic. That's a practical impossibility because it means price hikes to infinity will not affect consumption. What's more prices always, absent artificial intervention and even most of the time in spite of such intervention, rise to the top of the inelastic portion of consumer demand, or in other words prices rise to that point where, given current market conditions, a further price rise would lead to a loss in total revenue which wasn't compensated for with lower production costs.
    No no no. Of course nothing is purely inelastic. That is just common sense. No one can afford gas at $100 a gallon. Duh! Captain Obvious! It doesn't have to be purely inelastic, for you to get raped in the a$$. At some point you are going to cry pain.

    The US is not the market for oil, the world is. And right now there's a whole lot of fighting and unrest and uncertainty in the countries which produce a lot of the world's oil, not to mention increased demand and increased possiblity for future demand on the part of a few other large countries. Future predictions on price do affect current price valuations. If you owned a copper mine and predicted a shortage of copper you'd cut your production a bit now to take advantage of the higher price later. You'd bet on the future price rise. But, by cutting production now you'd also contribute to a price rise now. So instead of producing at a level that led to a market price of $2 per unit and then upping the price to $6 a unit once the shortage hit, the tendency in the market is to conserve through futures speculation, to hold some of the supply off the market. So instead of going from $2 to $6 the prices go from $2 to $3 to $4, or some other more gradual rise per unit rather than the mass fluctuations that would occur without such speculation. Some of the supply of copper is held off the market and reallocated to the future where people hope to make a bigger profit based on the more urgent demand, and this supply reallocation eases upward pressure on future prices.
    Theoretical conjecture. That is not what is going on.

    Show me the production statistics and the demand statistics that justify crude going from $25 to $75. Show me the production cut and the decline in petroleum stock.

    There is no way you can figure out how much of the increase is due to producers simply raising the price because they can and how much is due to rampant speculation.

    The reason the prices climbed steadily instead of a spike up is mostly because the producers have been steadily raising it and discovered that the demand is still there. So they keep raising it. They didn't go from $25 to $ 75 b/c they had no idea that would stick. So they do it the way it is normally done. You raise prices when you detect a firm demand. Then if it sticks, you raise some more. If the demand is still strong, raise some more. You charge what the market can bear. If the market can bear more, then you charge more, till the next price hike where there is no taker.

    Speculation has nothing to do with prices going smoothly. That is just theoretical conjecture.

    Last I had seen there was quite a bit of futures speculation going on in oil that was contributing significantly to the price hikes. People like O'Reilly and Lou Dobbs were condemning these speculators if I recall. But they aren't keeping that oil to swim in, they're keeping it in hopes of a higher profitin the future. So they're either right and if so that additional supply means prices will be lower in the future than they otherwise would have been, or if they're wrong their investment will tank and they'll unload as much as they can, causing a price fall as soon as the indicators that made them bet on a higher future price went south.
    Well, you have just described how rampant speculation can increase price volatility.

    There are 2 different types of speculation. You can be a trend following speculator or a contrarian speculator. Trend following or momentum players, will exaggerate price fluctuation. They just pile on and push prices to the extreme till it is not sustainable. These are the people the media condemn. To a large extend, they are correct. The contrarian speculators would buy low and sell high, or short at high price and cover at lower price. Contrarian speculators lower fluctuation. But while 'buy low sell high' is very sexy, it is extremely risky. Unless you are extremely skillful and very well capitalized, you may have a rendevouz with financial ruin.

    You should really open a futures account and put your theories to test. Nothing like facing death would enlighten you about life. Nothing like living with financial ruin would teach you more about finance and economics. Speculation is the modern day equivalent to privateering. Untold riches waiting for you or getting caught and hanged. lol
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    Alright..enough of this free education on real world economics and finance. I am reverting back to : You suck. You don't know what you are talking about. I am right. I am always right. You are just too dumb to see it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BioHazzard
    Personnel? Human Resources? That is Business school's territories. What's an economist doing in labor and staffing? Staffing is business school domain. It is beneath the economists..
    When I was student teaching I realized I had two options. One, deal with the mass of **** that amounts to a public school teacher's life, or two, make a career change. After my limited experience teaching and listening to my friends' experiences who were in the same field, I got the **** out. As for the particular field it's everything from passive sourcing to competitive recruiting through employment processing, pre employment testing and post hire performance management.

    Price is what clear the market at that specific point in time. Rational price is what reflects the economic value of the underlying products.
    According to neoclassical school mathematical models yes. In the real world prices tend towards an equillibrium or 'rational' price and get very, very close but never get there. Rational pricing also cannot account for loss leaders and other such phenomena, because prices in the real world, outside the models of mathematicians, reflect subjective evaluations that can't be quantified in a model and solved. Quantities are never perfectly cleared nor is the full stock of inventory of a particular good always on sale. The free market merely gets closer than any other system to perfect efficiency which is, in the end, a fantasy of mathematicians.

    Sure it is the result of subjective valuation. That is just a text book definition of what price is. But in the real world, the rational price of a goods also reflects the true economic value, which if you want to get technical, is the present value of all the future cash flow, you can extract or derive from ownership of the goods. When speculative fever kicks in, prices of goods can be pushed beyond any economic value you can possibly extract from owning the good. It is still a subjective valuation. But it is no longer a rational price.
    There is no difference between the two prices as there is no such thing as inherent 'rational' or 'correct' value to any good or service. Value is always subjective and prices are always subjective. What you're saying is you simply disagree with people's judgements about value, which is standard for mainstream economists who try to make the positive normative, and to be blunt that's the natural result of using mathematical models whose one real claim to fame is basically that they perfectly 'predict' the past. If people start valuing a certain commodity more for either its immediate use or as an investment product with an expectation of a future return is irrelevant, their subjective evaluations of that commodity relative to other ones at price x or x+100 or x+1000 or any other variant in price is equally valid and 'rational.' That they may be wrong in their judgement is irrelevant as well, the prices ex ante and ex post the aquisition of information that leads to a different price are equally valid and 'rational.' To assume otherwise is once more to assume perfect information which you yourself admit is impossible.

    If it is impossible then information must always be imperfect and therefore no 'rational' price of the type you describe is ever possible. There is no such thing as "true economic value," and any such claim of value is merely substituting the subjective evaluations of one person for another's. One person may have access to information that leads to them making a better decision based on their value scale and current market conditions, but that's impossible to know ex ante unless perfect information is also available to compare it to, which it isn't, and the judgement of valuation is not made in a vacuum therefore it can't be looked at as such. One person's judgement based on the same information will be different than another's because of their differring values.

    No no no. Of course nothing is purely inelastic. That is just common sense. No one can afford gas at $100 a gallon. Duh! Captain Obvious! It doesn't have to be purely inelastic, for you to get raped in the a$$. At some point you are going to cry pain.
    And that is the point at which the schedule tends toward flexibility. The point is any additional inflexibility in the schedule that allows for such a dramatic price rise the result of two things. One, the government previously forcing the natural market price down to make oil and fuel cheap for their own short term gains. A structure of production will develop around that commodity price that will become unsustainable once the price hikes which it always will in time. In that sense the government making cheap oil available is no different than making cheap money available. Or two, the government restricting entry into the industry and/or enacting regulations which make fuel alternatives less available. If there were only two types of bread for sale and the government artificially entrenched that market situation bread would be more expensive too.

    Show me the production statistics and the demand statistics that justify crude going from $25 to $75. Show me the production cut and the decline in petroleum stock.

    There is no way you can figure out how much of the increase is due to producers simply raising the price because they can and how much is due to rampant speculation.
    There are no such statistics. Not because such changes haven't occurred but because it's impossible to know or quantify how much a change in demand here or a restriction in supply there will affect prices in a free market, much less one as managed as the petroleum industry. Point is these effects do not materialize from corporate greed or any other such thing or prices would have always been high. Therefore the price differences in oil and gas are the result of market forces, however screwed up they may be, and based on the behavior of all other commodities, no matter how critical they are, it is obvious that the biggest force in dramatically increasing prices is the government. All prices, unless dictated by the government, are free market prices in that sense in that they are the result of normal market forces. That the government works to change and pervert the conditions of the market by restricting supply, market entry or exit, artificially creating demand through direct or floating price controls affecting quantities, etc., is what leads to problems.

    The reason the prices climbed steadily instead of a spike up is mostly because the producers have been steadily raising it and discovered that the demand is still there. So they keep raising it. They didn't go from $25 to $ 75 b/c they had no idea that would stick.
    Yes, and that's a natural market process. Pricing within an inflexible range of demand means inefficient use of resources. All prices tend upward whenever consumers are not responsive to price changes until they become responsive. That's what all corporations do with the prices of all their products and services unless they expect some gain, such as loss leaders, through lower prices. Pricing is and always was a discovery process, no one knows what something 'should' sell for a priori. And no one is whining about other prices set in the exact same way.

    There are 2 different types of speculation. You can be a trend following speculator or a contrarian speculator. Trend following or momentum players, will exaggerate price fluctuation. They just pile on and push prices to the extreme till it is not sustainable. These are the people the media condemn. To a large extend, they are correct. The contrarian speculators would buy low and sell high, or short at high price and cover at lower price. Contrarian speculators lower fluctuation. But while 'buy low sell high' is very sexy, it is extremely risky. Unless you are extremely skillful and very well capitalized, you may have a rendevouz with financial ruin.
    You may indeed but that's besides the point. Taking on that risk is a vital market function, and no matter how one speculates the underlying idea is that temporally reallocating supply will lead to greater profits and efficiency and tends to smooth price fluctuations, not exacerbate them. Speculation raising prices now and gradually over time is better than a shortage spiking them instantly at some point in the future. It has nothing to do with prvateering, it has to do with different risk tolerances that end up serving a vital market function.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CDB
    ...According to neoclassical school mathematical models yes. In the real world prices tend towards an equillibrium or 'rational' price and get very, very close but never get there. Rational pricing also cannot account for loss leaders and other such phenomena, because prices in the real world, outside the models of mathematicians, reflect subjective evaluations that can't be quantified in a model and solved. Quantities are never perfectly cleared nor is the full stock of inventory of a particular good always on sale. The free market merely gets closer than any other system to perfect efficiency which is, in the end, a fantasy of mathematicians....
    Your point is?

    Pricing for loss leaders? WTF? I don't give a sh1t about putting a tooth paste on sale in the hope of drawing more customer into the store. That is marketing technique. It has nothing to do with asset pricing. You can't do loss leader pricing with the stock of IBM. You will be arbitraged to bankruptcy.


    There is no difference between the two prices as there is no such thing as inherent 'rational' or 'correct' value to any good or service. Value is always subjective and prices are always subjective. What you're saying is you simply disagree with people's judgements about value, which is standard for mainstream economists who try to make the positive normative, and to be blunt that's the natural result of using mathematical models whose one real claim to fame is basically that they perfectly 'predict' the past. If people start valuing a certain commodity more for either its immediate use or as an investment product with an expectation of a future return is irrelevant, their subjective evaluations of that commodity relative to other ones at price x or x+100 or x+1000 or any other variant in price is equally valid and 'rational.' That they may be wrong in their judgement is irrelevant as well, the prices ex ante and ex post the aquisition of information that leads to a different price are equally valid and 'rational.' To assume otherwise is once more to assume perfect information which you yourself admit is impossible.
    Let me illustrate the concept using an example. The value of commercial building is a function of rent, current and future occupancy rate, and future growth of the economy base of the locale. There are other factors. But lets keep things simple. All these parameters are estimates. There is a range of estimates. Hence there is a range of value for the property. And this is the rational price range or value range. If you pay more than this, then, chances of low return is extremely high. The more you pay, the higher your chance of financial disappointment. It is entirely possible that the value of property will be less than the mortgage, and the cashflow is not enough to service the mortgage. It is foreclosure time. lol

    When real estate speculation heats up, people will bid up property prices, beyond its true economic value.

    If you don't know the rational prices, then you are doomed. Financial ruin is very relevant. If you have no ability to assess the rational value or rational prices of an asset, then your goose is cooked. Get out of the business and go do something else for a living.


    If it is impossible then information must always be imperfect and therefore no 'rational' price of the type you describe is ever possible. There is no such thing as "true economic value," and any such claim of value is merely substituting the subjective evaluations of one person for another's. One person may have access to information that leads to them making a better decision based on their value scale and current market conditions, but that's impossible to know ex ante unless perfect information is also available to compare it to, which it isn't, and the judgement of valuation is not made in a vacuum therefore it can't be looked at as such. One person's judgement based on the same information will be different than another's because of their differring values.
    Perfect. You have stumbled upon something that I have discovered long ago. "...that's impossible to know ex ante ...." There lies the fault line in academic thinking. This is where academics fail.

    In the real world, there are skills that you acquire so as to enable you to maximize your chances of success. The academics fail to recognize this point. They consider that success is only known after the fact and there is no way you can predict that ex ante.

    Let me illustrate this with an example, using topics that I have experience and direct knowledge in.

    It is widely accepted in the academic world that professional money managers fail to outperform the stock market index. What happen is, they look at the professional money managers as a group. And as a group, they sure have underperformed the S&P 500. So far so good. Based on this, they theorize that, the rational approach, would be to invest in an index fund that mirrors the S&P500. Logical and sound, so it seems.

    Uhfortunately, that is not how it really is in the real world. Now, if you follow their advice and invest in an index fund, you would most likely to outperform the professional managers as a group. Sound good?

    Well, not quite. You see, the key is NOT to look at professional managers as a group, but rather, to identify those with exceptional skills who OUTPERFORM their peers and thus outperform the index.

    But the academics not only fail to recognize this, they simply refuse to accept the reality that superior professional managers exist.

    What you have just done in your post, is to echo what the academics have been doing all along. You assume, in the same way the academics have been assuming, that there is not such thing as skills and knowledge that can be learnt that enable one to succeed in assessing the rational value/price of an economic asset.

    Well, that is not the way it is in the real world.

    You can't lump the superior participants with the inferior participants together and declare that they don't have the ability to assess ex ante the economic viability of an asset.

    The key is to separate the superior ones from the inferior ones and to find out what make the superior ones superior and to seek if you can duplicate the same success.

    It can be done and it has been done. The relevant question to each of us is, Can we do it?


    And that is the point at which the schedule tends toward flexibility. The point is any additional inflexibility in the schedule that allows for such a dramatic price rise the result of two things. One, the government previously forcing the natural market price down to make oil and fuel cheap for their own short term gains. A structure of production will develop around that commodity price that will become unsustainable once the price hikes which it always will in time. In that sense the government making cheap oil available is no different than making cheap money available. Or two, the government restricting entry into the industry and/or enacting regulations which make fuel alternatives less available. If there were only two types of bread for sale and the government artificially entrenched that market situation bread would be more expensive too.
    As far as the crude price rise is concerned, I am very tempted to call this Bullsh1t. LOL


    There are no such statistics. Not because such changes haven't occurred but because it's impossible to know or quantify how much a change in demand here or a restriction in supply there will affect prices in a free market, much less one as managed as the petroleum industry. Point is these effects do not materialize from corporate greed or any other such thing or prices would have always been high. Therefore the price differences in oil and gas are the result of market forces, however screwed up they may be, and based on the behavior of all other commodities, no matter how critical they are, it is obvious that the biggest force in dramatically increasing prices is the government. All prices, unless dictated by the government, are free market prices in that sense in that they are the result of normal market forces. That the government works to change and pervert the conditions of the market by restricting supply, market entry or exit, artificially creating demand through direct or floating price controls affecting quantities, etc., is what leads to problems.
    Nice to know. But totally useless info.

    Yes, and that's a natural market process. Pricing within an inflexible range of demand means inefficient use of resources. All prices tend upward whenever consumers are not responsive to price changes until they become responsive. That's what all corporations do with the prices of all their products and services unless they expect some gain, such as loss leaders, through lower prices. Pricing is and always was a discovery process, no one knows what something 'should' sell for a priori. And no one is whining about other prices set in the exact same way.
    And what the hell does this has any thing to do with anything?

    You may indeed but that's besides the point. Taking on that risk is a vital market function, and no matter how one speculates the underlying idea is that temporally reallocating supply will lead to greater profits and efficiency and tends to smooth price fluctuations, not exacerbate them. Speculation raising prices now and gradually over time is better than a shortage spiking them instantly at some point in the future. It has nothing to do with prvateering, it has to do with different risk tolerances that end up serving a vital market function.
    It is clear that, when you talk about speculation, what you are really talking about is just the hedging side of the futures market.

    Hedging lower price volatility. When people with underlying goods to buy and to sell, and they go to the futures market to hedge their future position, the result it the smoothing out price volatility and more efficient allocation of resources.

    Speculators are just taking bets. They have nothing to hedge against. (Technically they can hedge against their positions, but that is too complicated to explain and will just muddy the water. The kind of hedge only relates to trading position and has nothing to do with real production of goods. ) The only redeeming value of speculators is they provide liquidity in the market. If they are contrarian speculators, they may lower or dampen the volatility. If they are trend followers, then they just add to volatility and exaggerate it. Since it is financial suicide to buck the trend, most speculators are trend followers. The majority of successful speculators are certainly trend followers and they own their success to riding major price trend. So, there is no doubt whatsoever that while speculation does not create trend, speculation definitely exaggerate the volatility of the trend.

    Speculation is modern day's equivalent to privateering, with similar risk and return profile, except that there is no bloodshed. Not many people can comprehend the concept. I don't expect people who are not in the business to understand it. This is not said to be condescending. It is the cold harsh reality.
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    None of the stuff I have just wasted the last hour on, has much to do with the rise of crude from $25 to $75, except may be in the mind of economists. The real reason for the price has been talked about a few pages back.

    I hope people are learning something useful out of the posts. lol I am done with this. Can't afford to spend hours on forum. I am not getting paid for this.. lol

    CDB, you are wasting your analytical skills and talent on theoretical stuffs. Go to learn how to make money investing in stocks and real estates, and speculating in futures market. Don't waste your life wandering in the Shangri-la of Economics. I mean this with all sincerity and goodwill.


    This is for you... Hope it inspires you.

    John Maynard Keynes - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    "...Keynes' brilliant record as a stock investor is demonstrated by the publicly available data of a fund he managed on behalf of King's College, Cambridge.

    From 1928 to 1945, despite taking a massive hit during the Stock Market Crash of 1929, Keynes' fund produced a very strong average increase of 13.2% compared with the general market in the United Kingdom declining by an average 0.5% per annum.

    The approach generally adopted by Keynes with his investments he summarised accordingly:

    1. A careful selection of a few investments having regard to their cheapness in relation to their probable actual and potential intrinsic value over a period of years ahead and in relation to alternative investments at the time;

    2. A steadfast holding of these fairly large units through thick and thin, perhaps for several years, until either they have fulfilled their promise or it is evident that they were purchases on a mistake, and;

    3. A balanced investment position, i.e. a variety of risks in spite of individual holdings being large, and if possible opposed risks (e.g. a holding of gold shares among other equities, since they are likely to move in opposite directions when there are general fluctuations).

    Keynes argued that "It is a mistake to think one limits one's risks by spreading too much between enterprises about which one knows little and has no reason for special confidence ... One's knowledge and experience are definitely limited and there are seldom more than two or three enterprises at any given time in which I personally feel myself to put full confidence."

    Keynes' advice on speculation, some might say, is timeless:

    (Investment is) intolerably boring and over-exacting to any one who is entirely exempt from the gambling instinct; whilst he who has it must pay to this propensity the appropriate toll. ....."
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