Anyone on the look out for some good news in these times of economic uncertainty and international tension will be heartened by reports this week that Canadian oil sands centred around Northern Alberta could provide as almost half of all US crude imports by 2030. That’s obviously good news for the North American economy and for both sides of the U.S. Canadian border, as well as improving US supply security.
Oil careers and oil jobs aplenty
Well it may not offer the types of off shore oil jobs that you see advertised in the Gulf Of Mexico for example, a recent report detailing the big boost in Canadian oil sand exports to the US certainly promises a whole host of related oil careers and oil jobs. The research from IHS Cambridge Energy Research Associates indicates that throughout 2010 oil sand imports from Canada’s large reserves of tar sands (or oil sands) will become the number one source of U.S. oil imports. The report goes on to predict that by 2030 oil sand imports could eventually rise to account for as much as 20-36% of U.S. oil and refined product imports. That’s a massive leap from a level of just 8% in 2009 and in real terms equates to between 3.1 mbd and 5.7 mbd by 2030.
The new expansion and exploitation of resources considered second in size only to those found in Saudi Arabia will inevitably require huge new investments in oil industry infrastructure and expertise. Research and development of new extraction methods are also crucial, particularly with regard to the special challenges involved in extracting a ‘heavy’ form of crude oil trapped in the sand and making it sufficiently fluid so that it can travel down pipelines ready for refining into gasoline and other hydrocarbon products. Investment is guaranteed to be substantial. For example, ConocoPhillips alone is committing somewhere between US$ 300 and $ 500million over the next five years in technology and in managing the environmental issues associated with the extraction.
Global oil and economic supply security
Securing a guaranteed and affordable supply of energy is an increasingly complex challenge these days, as rapidly developing nations such as India, China and Brazil compete for resources to meet their fast growing energy demands. The oil sands exploitation represents dual benefits to North America. The USA will have fast, easy and secure access to substantial amounts of new energy. This will not only guarantee the security of national energy demands for years to come with a politically stable and friendly neighbour, but there are also major economic spin offs for both Canada and the USA too.
In Canada, The Canadian Energy Research Institute has forecast that by 2020 the $ 100billion invested in oil sands development will have inspired a GDP increase of $ 885 billion, an additional 6.6 million person years’ employment and as much as $ 123billion of government revenues. The U.S. economy too will also benefit to the tune of an estimated 10,000 new construction jobs and an additional 500 permanent full-time refinery positions according the API (American Petroleum Institute), with refinery upgrades and expansions creating a whole host of new oil career opportunities.
The U.S House of Representatives rejected President Bush’s 700 billion dollar rescue bid aimed at bailing out Wall Street (though they couldn’t show this sense when their intelligent leader decided war was needed). With Wall Street’s Dow Jones index taking its biggest one-day points fall in history after the deal was denied, European share indexes became immediately volatile in the Tuesday trading with huge declines hitting Asian stocks.
In the U.K the chameleonic David Cameron took his eyes off the door to Number 10 and announced that the Conservatives will work with the current government to tackle the financial crisis, taking the approach that we’re all in this all together. Whilst partisan politics are arguably detrimental to our progression as a civilisation, and the governments of the World should be handed a large chunk of the blame for the current economical down turn, a large part should be reserved for the media.
It has become increasingly impossible over recent months to turn on the television, fire up the internet, pick up a paper of even flick through the trashiest of gossip-rag magazines that pollute the racks of news agents, without getting a sinking feeling in the stomach and being told that it’s the end of the world in terms of economy. That we, as a nation, a world, a people all are heading into the gaping jaws of the Great Depression Mark 2.
This, surely, is the definition of scare mongering. Playing on the fears of the Everyman that rent will be a bit harder to find and food more expensive in order to push their paper or sell advertising space on their website. An approach exemplified by the Times of London who ran a stunning black and white shot of London’s financial district amongst the clouds that surround it’s peaks with a headline along akin to ‘Fear Stalks the Banks.”
People hold the financial aspect of their lives in high concern, a ridiculous amount of adverts on television are dedicated to offering higher rates of savings, loans and deals for their money. It is, therefore, sickening to glance at the news and see a trusted media outlet, funded by public licence fees, proclaim that yet more economical doom is looming. Especially when said peddler of news puts this information right beside news that Eastenders has cleaned up at the Soap Awards.
More and more, media is treating the economical slowdown as entertainment. The problem is that they employ the same fear-inducing tactics as the Americans do whenever something anywhere in the world happens and they increase their terror alert to beige. The news media has become a changed beast since the tragic events of September 11th, every little detail is jumped upon incase it could be the next big thing to have such an impact and either a certain network won’t receive coverage rewards or there is some way in which over-reporting could solve the problem. Or, even less-likely, the American audience isn’t scared enough. Of everything.
Just look at the state of things in America at present. There’s a pretty big blip in their economy (good thing they’re not spending millions upon millions of much needed dollars on a military operation) so they do the right thing and look to fix it. Only, this isn’t news enough, let’s have one of the word media’s biggest circuses interrupted and send one of the Presidential candidates back. Not because he’s losing, mind. Of course, to the media, this is gold! This must mean the End of the World is nigh!
Though, on a strictly speculative note, should McCain have any influence on this? Surely if he gets his way and decides to “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” won’t that be more detrimental to the world’s economy than any mortgage lender’s collapse?
Big institutions will often fail due to poor planning (sub-prime mortgages should never have been approved, where was the foresight?), it’s happened throughout history and will continue to do so. For every great business decision that builds an empire there will be another that will cause one to crumble. Nothing is set in stone and the economy works like an elastic band, constantly stretching and snapping back but continual in this process as it always recovers. Until now, how can economies be expected to recover if people are too scared to spend thanks to an over zealous media?
Sure, oil prices will rise. It’s one of life’s little guarantees, especially when you pump millions into a war effort that manages to increase them accordingly. Just don’t act surprised when the knock on effect is that food prices go up. Of course, it would be easy to point out that if governments really want to live up to election promises of reducing costs they should stop creating such a turbulent and, therefore, expensive world.
That all-hype-all-the-time media is a funny thing though as, like a common cold or fatal disease, it’s infectious and has spread to pretty much every news outlet across the globe. Yes, media has a duty to report the facts but do not create news in doing so. The media is guilty of creating an environment of fear where people are too scared to spend money on even their essentials and thus save the economy.
The stock market is has sure had its share of ups and downs over the last few years. In fact over the last few years it doesn’t seem like much has really happened. Does this mean that buy and hold is gone for good? Does it still work?
Of course long term investing is still valid. Over the long term stocks tend to go up, just because the last couple of years have been crazy does not mean that it will continue to be that way in the future. All the evidence seems to say that over the long term, stocks go up and become very profitable.
1. There Have Been Lots of Flat Times
Everyone wants to believe that if something happens in the market in the last 3 or 4 years that it predicts what will happen to the market in the next 20 years. No, there have been lots of times when the market has been trending sideways for years only to break out of it and start going up again.
Investors who have hung onto strong stocks for the long term have made money overall in the stock market in the past. And therefore are likely to do so in the future as well.
2. History Looks Good
Over the long term the major indexes such as the Dow Jones and the S&P have gone up and they continue to go up. In fact, aside from buying at the top of the great depression if you would have invested into strong stocks and held them for 20 years during any point in the past it would have been profitable. History repeats itself more often than not.
If you do take a look at the long term chart of the major indexes you are still not seeing the whole story. They also paid out dividends. These dividends alone can make them better investments then other similar securities like bonds or CDs.
In the end no one can say for absolute certainty that stocks will be profitable or not in the future. The only thing we know for sure is that in the past they were. So keep that in mind when deciding whether to invest or not.
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