Friday, July 10, 2009

On Oil speculation

As I always suspected oil prices are often driven by government policy and not private speculators. It seems Tyler Cowen agrees here. This has some rather interesting consequences as it should put an end to the idea that evil oil companies are the major source for high energy prices. They often only respond to market boundary conditions. The more uncertain the higher the price and environmental regulation at this point is highly uncertain, thus we have again rising oil prices.

Yes, the crisis also had an influence, but the drop in prices was temporary because the oil seller soon anticipated the difference and acted accordingly. It was a short-term effect that lasted from October 2008 until late June 2009, when gasoline prices were again on their old level.

Of course, one can believe that the coal market is similar to the oil market in its working since coal is also used in highly environmentally regulated power plants. Now, usually other industries (steel f.e.) are betting for coal shipments from Australia and the emerging nation China also has pushed prices up with their high demand. However, when the crisis hit, prices dropped because production rates dropped all over the board, at the same time energy companies continued producing almost the same amount of energy. So, their share of coal prices dropped and they got more coal than before for the same price. Why then did energy prices go?
It is because in the near future, nuclear energy is going to be forbidden and coal power will be more expensive. The companies anticipate this coal-unfriendly climate and try to amortize their plants in due time.

They see that with the current climate due to IPCC, Copenhagen etc. they will most likely pay a new premium in the future, so they can't drop prices now, because gains now is more valuable than payments in ten years. So, though ressources prices drop, government prices still rise and are anticipated to rise further.

Coal prices (12 month)
Oil prices

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