One place where America is getting great again fast
Headline you don't see too many places: "U.S. oil exports are blowing past expectations."
That's from Mike Allen's pretty good new news site, Axios, which is fast becoming one of my favorites. The U.S. is blowing away OPEC and other petro-tyrant states with a stunning upsurge in oil sales abroad. Up until December 2015, oil exports weren't even legal from the states. Thirteen months later, we are conquering the market and becoming the big dog through our energy companies' rising production, eclipsing every petro-tyrant this side of Hugo Chávez.
Get a load of the chart from Forbes.
That reminds me...who is buying this stuff? Turns out our top customer is Mexico, but there have been months where it was none other than Chavista Venezuela itself, the nation whose dictator, Hugo Chávez, many times threatened to shut the U.S. down through the disruption of oil supplies. Its state oil company, PDVSA, buys the most oil in some months for its Curacao refinery. Turns out it's America that can shut the remains of that communist clown show down now.
The tables have turned.
It's great news, of course, but it also leaves one a little rueful. We could have been ruling the oil market eight years ago, had then-president Obama not shut down, demonized, punished, and sidelined our magnificent world-class oil industry. Instead, we lost seven long years – 15 if we want to count George W. Bush, who did not do much for the industry, either, although the technology for extraction was less advanced.
Still, when one thinks of the mischief that could have been prevented had the U.S. not projected such weakness on the world oil markets over those years... Would Ukraine have avoided invasion if the U.S. could put Russia's petro-tyrants on the defensive? Would Iran have not chanced taking its oil earnings to build a nuke if it saw that we could "bury" it on the oil markets? Would the Saudis have gotten started earlier on developing their economy, and thus preventing terrorism from taking root, if the U.S. had more oil? Or if the U.S. had the clout to put them out of business? Would Ecuador and Indonesia have joined OPEC at all if its clout as a producer had been in question? Would Venezuela have turned into a hellhole were it not for its heyday of huge oil earnings? So many serious possibilities.
In any case, oil is now being exported, the free markets have been freed, and now we have a textbook, pilot-style example of what happens when we free up free markets. The optimistic thing is that it raises questions of what happens when we free up other markets. Would freeing up health care from the nightmare shackles of Obamacare open up the market to unbeatable highs? Would freeing the Social Security system of its artificial losses through a Chile-style private pension savings account system give everyone a decent, secure retirement, as it does in Chile? Would privatizing the mail service finally end the problem of mail theft? Would getting the government out of the education business, the bank business, the phone business finally rationalize costs? The single act of Congress in late 2015 sure as heck did miracles for the oil industry.
It's a bellwether of what's ahead if markets elsewhere are also freed.