Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jummy Carter was right too~

If you look at the history of oil price increases (noting the logarithmic scale of the graph y axis), you will be reminded of the price shocks during 1973 (before Jimmy Carter was elected president) and 1979 (while he was in office). They had a devastating impact on the U.S. economy, which was ameliorated by the decreases in oil prices during the Reagan administration and the high rates of inflation.

Look at this graph for the past five years in more detail:

It is a little noted fact that the oil price shock of 2007-2008 was a contributing factor, perhaps a trigger, to the economic crisis that became acute in 2008 (check this Brookings study). Also, notice that the price of oil has returned almost to the 2008 peak level, and that the run up in 2010 may well be related to the economic slowdown of 2011.

Jimmy Carter told us in the 1970s that we had to decrease our reliance on oil, especially imported foreign oil, and proposed a massive effort to develop alternative energy technologies. We should have listened and persevered in following those policies. Not only would we have more and better alternatives to oil technology now, we would have more oil!

Other presidents since Reagan have been right about our need to reduce our dependence on oil (with possible exceptions of the Bush Republican presidents whose family wealth depended on their oil businesses). Still, this is another area in which Obama has been right!

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