Egypt: It`s Jobs Stupid…..
A couple of weeks ago Egypt demonstrations led to the Mursi administration being removed from office, who was elected from the last set of demonstrations. What Mursi and many media analysts failed to realize is that the demonstrations weren`t really about democracy, religion, philosophy or ideology but were actually about jobs.
It’s the economy stupid, that is what the Egyptian people really care about, which is ironic because without a major overhaul in their country`s entire business structure, the one strategic advantage the country has is the tourist industry.
The tourist industry brings in revenue, and supports many types of jobs all throughout the Egyptian supply chain. The irony is that the prolonged demonstrations, and cases of violence reported only hurt the tourism trade even further.
This is something the military has understood, and why they are taking measures to stop the demonstrations, and get back to normal as soon as possible in being an attractive destination for tourists once again.
It will take twenty years to reform Egypt for example to focus on an alternative industry like technology, and being a technology hub in the Middle East. And even if that was a goal to produce jobs in the country they need money to transition from a tourist based economy to one that provided opportunities for their young people.
This is only going to come from one place, the tourist industry so the government needs to eliminate the demonstrations at all costs, attract tourists once again, and get people back to work. Why do you think there were so many people demonstrating? It is because they didn`t have jobs to keep them busy and fruitfully employed.
The military and temporary government realizes that the most important thing is the economy, get people some jobs, and they are much happier. It isn`t about governmental corruption, all governments are powerful and corrupt. It`s the economies that don`t provide business opportunities and jobs that make citizens unhappy and unruly.
Why the Middle East Supply Shortage Argument is Vacuous
This brings me to the recent spike in oil on the Middle East demonstrations which have happened every year for the last four years. There is always some reason in the Middle East why oil has to spike higher by $5, 10, 15 dollars a barrel.
Whether it is Israel bombing a few weapons caravans, Egypt demonstrations, Syria civil war, Libyan insurgents attacking Embassy personnel, etc. But this is all noise, and completely irrelevant to the supply of oil in the marketplace.
When was the last time in 30 years where the world actually had a supply disruption from the Middle East? Never, the reason why and the Fed president James Bullard put it quite well the last time oil spiked on middle east nonsense is that whoever is in power, needs money, and oil is the one commodity that these countries have to get money.
I don`t care if a bunch of mercenaries took over power in some oil rich country, you can bet they are going to be selling oil to support the need for money. People in power will protect the oil infrastructure at all costs, because it gets them money which controls their livelihood.
If there is a powerful overthrow of a previous regime, the conquering power will then protect the oil fields so that they can then stay in power through the money generated from the oil resources. This is why you will never have a major supply shortage in the oil industry from Middle East flair ups.Point #2
Here is the adjacent point that makes this even more salient, if let`s say something crazy happened like the Saudi oil fields were attacked and damaged, and some crazy group started burning the oil fields. Yeah, that is how far-fetched an event would actually have to happen to actually have a major supply shortage from the Middle East.
This is just a hypothetical because one call to the US would bring in all hell, and the oil fields would be protected by US troops. But let us assume that this event did happen. Well oil prices would immediately spike, but the conundrum is that prices would be so high due to speculators, that nobody on a wide scale could afford any oil, and the entire global economy would come crashing down into a depression, and then you couldn`t give the stuff away because of the damage of the depression to the world`s economies.
Further Reading: The Bernanke Conundrum
You wouldn`t need middle east oil at all, because there would be more than enough supplies in the rest of the world for what is left of the global economy. Most people just fail to understand this point. Oil is only valuable in the current scale of supplies at a certain price point once it goes too high it destroys the very demand that is necessary for its wide spread adoption as an everyday staple by consumers.
Above certain price points the majority of people simply cannot afford it, so then it has no demand on a large scale. Thus the global economy implodes, and no need for gas anymore because nobody has jobs in a global recession.
This is the Yin and Yang of the oil industry which 99% of business people fail to realize about the commodity. The scale of the oil market ultimately limits its upside in price, and it is only valuable if there is a vibrant market for its use.
Too high prices by a catastrophic Middle East real supply shortage actually spell the death of the demand for the very commodity that at first spikes because of said event. It is the ultimate paradoxical rationale for why any real supply shortage in the Middle East is actually meaningless for the price of oil.
Further Reading: Lumber Prices near the Top of their Historical Range
Under both scenarios the price of oil will ultimately be lower. This is the major misunderstanding of the oil market, and historically during the first Iraq war people made a fortune, shorting the spike in oil prices.
Oil only remains valuable given the scale of the market, if there actually is a large, thus scalable market in place to provide consumers for the wide spread production of the commodity.
High Gasoline Prices Just Killed the Summer Driving Season!
You see this phenomenon played out on a small scale here in the US each of the last four years. Every time gasoline prices spike, after a few weeks demand for the commodity starts dropping, and then prices start coming back down.
Moreover, this is in the wealthiest country in the world. Just imagine what happens in China, India or parts of the third world on any type of price spikes.
This is why with plenty of supplies, the summer driving season was actually starting to experience a slight pickup in demand because gasoline prices were lower than they had been for a while, and sure enough the prices spike, and we have killed another summer driving season with high prices.
Mark my word; we have already seen the peak demand for the summer driving season. It is all downhill from here due to the pullback from the incredible spike in gasoline prices.
In a couple of weeks, wholesalers will not be able to give the stuff away as demand craters for the remainder of the summer driving season. They will be stuck with all of this inventory that will be decreasing in prices.
The old adage always applies with regard to oil and gasoline prices “there is no cure for high prices, like high prices.” This is why the Middle East can never truly have a prolonged supply shortage. They will price their customers out of the market!