Sunday, September 24, 2006

Self-defeating prediction

I am confidently predicting that on this day in 2008, the price of petrol will be under $1.00 Au per litre in Townsville. Much against the alarmists which talk about the end of big oil etc. etc., it seems to me the world will be drowning in the stuff soon enough. From an economic perspective, as is the way with these things, the price has severely overshot its long term natural level. Refining capacity, oil stocks and strategic reserves are building much faster than usage is increasing. Once this process has caught up to the surprise surge in demand, even a slight flattening of this surge will result in big drops in the oil price. My speculation is relying on my theory that the whole thing has been triggered by a demographic "one off" in China. The dependancy rate there has become extremely low and is still dropping. This rate will suddenly turn and increase sharply, never to get anywhere near as low again. This is due to happen within the next couple of years, and the flow-on effects will particularly influence investment markedly. I titled this entry self-defeating because if all oil investors read this and agreed with me, they would cut back investment now and my prediction would never come true.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

11th September, five years on

Damn right I remember what I was doing when it happened. I was just snoozing off as was my habit at that time, while Kylie would watch her various shows, channel surfing in the ads. All of a sudden, she woke me up to tell me an aeroplane had hit the world trade centre. My very first reaction was "Terrorists!". Now to explain, I had never thought of the World Trade Centre at that point as those really tall buildings in New York, but that place those islamist terrorists tried to destroy back in the 90's. I also had remembered that one of those arrested had boasted that it would be knocked over the next time. More to the point, I dragged myself to the TV and had the surreal situation of seeing the second plane hitting live. The main relevant knowledge I had of skyscrapers is that once one floor collapses, it starts a chain reaction that brings the whole building down. I was quite relieved that the initial explosions hadn't achieved that, but the flames and smoke were not dying down and were getting worse. Somewhere along the line I started to think about how my life was going to change. I cursed that I probably wouldn't get to sleep much and that those lucky sods who were already asleep would get a good night's sleep before realising that the world had changed forever. I thought about it longer and I realised that my life probably wouldn't change *that* much being in Australia. I pondered the Geopolitical significance, and my spin on it was that Al Queda was wanting to provoke a hugely disproportionate response from the US - ie. one that would make the US look like the *really* bad guys. Extrapolating from this, I figured Al Queda would have pretty much abandoned its operations in Afghanistan and moved to various other places as far as terrorist training went. I hoped in a sense that the response wouldn't be disproportionate and that the moral advantages of being the victim could propel the US to achieve diplomatic goals. I feared that one way or another, Al Queda would get their wish and have the US eventually look like the immoral, violent entity it wanted to portray. It took a lot longer than I anticipated, but it has gone full circle and now even former staunch supporters of the war agains Iraq (such as "The Economist") are demonstrating despair at the current state of affairs due to the war. I feel that what is in reality a medium term stalemate in the middle east, is ever so slowly inching towards the conditions required for progress towards stability.
Back to the date in question, I have since noticed a subtle divide between people that saw the event live and those that woke up to it in the morning. While on the night in question I thought of it as a curse to witness the horror live with confused and chaotic commentary. However in reality, after a few days I realised that seeing a moment in history unfold was a little like seeing man walk on the moon, but without advance knowledge, the witnessing of it came down to pure chance in this case. Having known about it in the morning when I woke up, I didn't tell my brother about it when I saw him at 6:00 am in the morning. He did not find out for more than a couple of hours. I thought I was doing him a favour by keeping him innocent for as long as possible, but he was still mad at me about it a full year later. As was my good friend Sandor who probably unfairly expected me to call him and wake him up so he could have also witnessed it live.

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