In a True Free Market, Speculation Implies Investment

As evidenced by his use of the phrase “mistaken imperial war,” Chris Powell and I are hardly simpatico, but he makes an important point, here:

Oil and oil products are hardly the only things whose prices have soared lately; nearly all commodities are up sharply, with the Commodity Research Bureau index reporting an increase of 37 percent in a year as the dollar’s value against other currencies having fallen about 12 percent. But Congress has yet to interrogate wheat farmers, copper miners and pizza makers.

I’m neither a financial expert nor an experienced investor, but the term “speculator” evokes the impression of investment for the purpose of exploration. In other words, the speculative dollars building up in the oil industry ought to be going toward exploration and infrastructural development. The problem is that regulations and environmental zealotry are preventing what would amount to a market correction with profound geopolitical implications.
Various liberal commenters have been pointing to OPEC as a symptom of the free market and to the high price of energy as the free market’s inevitable result. It seems to me that OPEC’s power derives largely from other nations’ deliberate restriction of the free market; to the extent that the cartel understands American political realities, it is able to hold production down and prices up.

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George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Justin,
You say you are “neither a financial expert nor an experienced investor”, but you’ve got it figured out.
What you have is Common Sense, something that is in short supply amongst those that have turned John Kennedy’s famous words inside out.
Rather than “Ask NOT what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”, the Phils, Bob Walshes, etc. go thru life with a “what can my country or the state do for me and my Union comrades”.
One of the reasons the US Dollar is so weak against other currencies is due to the US’s insatiable appetite for products made over seas, particularly China. And one of the reasons products are made overseas is because American labor, thru Unions, have priced themselves out of jobs.
Just look at the insanity that is General Motors. They literally PAY people to sit around and not work, and then wonder why they can’t compete with the likes of Toyota. As an aside, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that Providence Fire Department Union Pwesident, Lazy-Ass Pauly “No Show” Doughty, would fit right in at GM.
The bottom line is that if the frightened, spineless Union hacks allowed the Free Market to determine their worth, as opposed to cowering behind arbitration and collective bargaining laws, the entire economy would be in far better shape.
Better yet, if some of the Union hacks such as Bob Walsh actually established a business and created jobs using their proposed rules, they’d learn in a hurry the error of their ways. But alas, why should they when they have license via the GA to confiscate the earnings of those that actually compete and produce.

Phil
Phil
12 years ago

Geoege Elbow
Thank you for putting Bob Walsh and me (Phil)in the same sentence. His posts are usually informative and occasionaly funny. I think he may be one of the more intelligent people posting here. So thanks again. Now you can back to your normal(?) harangue.

OldTimeLefty
12 years ago

Justin, you said,

It seems to me that OPEC’s power derives largely from other nations’ deliberate restriction of the free market; to the extent that the cartel understands American political realities, it is able to hold production down and prices up.

If the market can be manipulated, How free is it?
Tell me again how the benevolent, yet based on personal greed, “free” market always, of its own accord comes around, rights itself and proves a blessing for everyone. You speak of the “free” market as though it is a force which is beyond human manipulation and then bemoan the fact that “other nations” deliberately restrict it. If it can be restricted by national policies, HOW FREE IS IT?
Aren’t you admitting that it is out of control and subject to the manipulation of cartels and governments and the people behind it?
OldTimeLefty

OldTimeLefty
12 years ago

George Elbow, here are some statistics taken from the U.S. Census, 2000:
Wage & Salary workers covered by unions
1983 20.5 million
1999 18.1 million
Private Sector workers covered by unions
1983 13.4 million
1999 10.2 million
Percentage of Wage & Salary workers covered bu unions
1983 23.3%
1999 15.5%
Public Sector workers covered by unions
1983 45.5%
1999 42.1%
Private Sector workers covered by unions
1983 18.5%
1999 10.2%
Unless you have been bending your elbow too much you can see that in every case union membership has decreased.
In light of these numbers how can you say:

“one of the reasons products are made overseas is because American labor, thru Unions, have priced themselves out of jobs.”

when union membership has declined over the past 25 years. How can you possibly lay blame on a diminishing number of workers. It would be more logical to blame our economic problems on misguided and out of control capitalists who manipulate prices, and sell out their country for personal profit.
OldTimeLefty

Monique
12 years ago

“Various liberal commenters have been pointing to OPEC as a symptom of the free market and to the high price of energy as the free market’s inevitable result. It seems to me that OPEC’s power derives largely from other nations’ deliberate restriction of the free market; to the extent that the cartel understands American political realities, it is able to hold production down and prices up.”
Good point. And by falling for this, environmentalists in Congress (including specifically Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation) are accomplishing three things:
– Enriching dictatorships.
– Enriching Big Oil.
– Unnecessarily raising the cost of living of their constituents and all residents of the United States.

rhody
rhody
12 years ago

It’s not so much about OPEC as it is these reckless speculators who believe if they mouth off enough, they can drive up the price enough to make a killing.
Given that the U.S. is using less oil, not more (and China’s new taxes will cut oil use somewhat there, too), prices should be going down, not up. Justin, as a middle-class American with a family of your own to feed, your seeming defense of these speculators and oligarchs (for a completely non sequitur attack on liberalism) is simply beyond the pale. And I’m sure plenty of conservatives who are getting socked at the pump will agree with me.

OldTimeLefty
12 years ago

Monique,
You point out that the “free” market is manipulable. Since you believe that, then you must also believe that the “free” market is not really free. You can’t have it both ways.
Tell me again how the “free” market works of its own accord and how it makes benevolent adjustments that benefit everyone.
OldTimeLefty

msteven
msteven
12 years ago

OTL,
It is obvious to most people that the ‘free’ market is not ‘free’ in the absolute sense anymore than ‘freedom of speech’ refers to absolute freedom of speech. A free market economy is one where individuals, rather than government, make the majority of decisions regarding economic activities. So typical of you to use the imperfections of a free market system (individuals being imperfect and all) as indicative of it being inferior. As opposed to a socialist economy in which governments, which in your view apparently are not susceptible to the lure of greed, distribute the wealth evenly.
But your response to George Elbow is really lame. You really believe that more products being made overseas has nothing to do with the costs of using American labor? And you actually think that decreasing union membership is a strong argument against the increasing costs of American made products? You cannot be serious.
If you want to blame the economic problems on greedy capitalists, that is debatable. But again, asserting that socialism is superior to capitalism means trusting a smaller set of people to regulate the entire economy including setting prices rather than trusting the outcome of all the competing economic interests between individuals.
Based on your view, it would be logical that you would also be in favor of a totalitarian state where the government had authority over most aspects of your public and private life rather than suffer the negative consequences that often accompany free speech and due process. Is that accurate?

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Old Time Lefty,
What is your point??
Of course Union jobs (particularly in the Private Sector) have decreased.
The reason being that the Unions have priced themselves out of the market. They have made their employers uncompetitive with their nutty demands, thus the employers go overseas, resulting in fewer jobs for ALL (both Union & non-Union).
You will note that the decrease in Public Sector Unions doesn’t come close to the decrease in Private Sector Unions, because we unfortunately can not replace uncompetitive, incompetant Union teachers & FF with overseas labor.
Are you going to justify GM paying “employees” to sit home? Are you going to suggest that that is a sustainable and competitive business model? Would you want to own and run a business applying such insanity?

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Phil,
You are welcome and you are correct when you say that Bob Walsh’s “posts are usually informative and occasionaly funny.”
It is indeed quite a joke and laughable when Bob Walsh tells us that the unsustainable defined contribution pension plan that he so defends on behalf of his Entitlement minded flock will be fully funded in a mere 22 years under his “Walshian Assumptions” of 8.25% annual returns, ignoring of course that the stock market is currently below where it was in 2006!
It is even more laughable (i.e. funny) when he suggests that we “sell equity” in the Lottery while still maintaining the current level of spending.
And yes, he is most “informative”, as his anti-free market, cradle-to-grave taxpayer support for Union members living on the Public Tit is very informative of the Entitlement Union mentality, which fears the Free Market like a mouse fears a cat, resulting in old & net time lefties requiring a “contract” and a Union Steward to carry their water.

Monique
12 years ago

“when Bob Walsh tells us that the unsustainable defined contribution pension plan that he so defends on behalf of his Entitlement minded flock will be fully funded in a mere 22 years under his “Walshian Assumptions” of 8.25% annual returns, ignoring of course that the stock market is currently below where it was in 2006!
It is even more laughable (i.e. funny) when he suggests that we “sell equity” in the Lottery while still maintaining the current level of spending.”
Wait, I just noticed that. If the former is true, why must we do the latter?

George Elbow
George Elbow
12 years ago

Monique,
Don’t try to apply logic to Bob Walsh’s silly, but financially dangerous, shell games.
The expectation is that you should do as his mindless Union flock does, which is to nod in agreement as you walk off the cliff.
Bob’s really, really smart. Just ask him or any of his simple-minded followers (e.g. Phil). And if you don’t get what he’s selling, it’s because you are not bright enough to understand “high finance”, common sense be damned.

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