Oct 20, 2008

Shift To Shape

Two fine posts (FabMax & Kent's) about smothered writings of deserved heed upon shabby and beckoning ol' walls got us mulling over the divides & gangways between intelligence analysts, prophets, and your regular old soothsaying hacks.

Alerting graffiti (that simultaneously dire and decorative kind) conjectured by all manner a premonitory scribbler abounds: Alien invasion fleets lurking to pounce upon our welfare states from behind the innocent moon. Decadently chateau'd and beak-nosed Rothchildians colluding with coffin-masturbating and creaky old Anglo-satanists for nation-killing and Jesus-ushering global hegemony. Or exploitative street urchins the likes of a Soros or a Lahde publicly accenting Bubble. What the heck is actionable enough to cling to?

Save our souls, Brother - and do tell us before we're all, excuse our French, glass'd, "Which of the millennial incomers is the MIRV and what be the swarm of Siberian-mined aluminum chaff?"

The good analyst but strives to describe a sliver of a moment - now or then.

Prophets haphazardly foresee an amalgamated potpourri of such interconnected moments and invariably get viciously bled and quartered for such un-summoned community service, well rudely ante their utterances are sufficiently Youtube'd for fair chance at corralling abidance.

Soothsayers. Well hey, they're those commonsensical sounding folks with scary pluperfect hair resolutely appearing on CGI'd cable news - and who are almost always wrong in, alas, non-existent retrospect.

Prediction is but for the shaper. Such sculpting animal takes, or leaves, the goodies of the varyingly vying Trinitians under its driven behest and proceeds unflinchingly onwards as myopic molder. Futures made are oft born of steamrolling sows, obliterating difference in fidelity between the considered input of indentured drudge and freelancing druid.

Caught in a cacophony of determined advice, admonition, and analysis, perhaps it's fair to turn deaf ears to courting lips and rear pasty asses t'wards our strong sun and meekly ask, "Who's the shaper now?"

Now a wee diddy`bout oil pricing.

Oil prices seem to be in free-fall. After averaging a staggering $137 a barrel over the first week of July, they were down to $109 a barrel over the final week of August.

Where are prices going next? Who knows? Bearish talk about bubbles bursting and bullish talk about peak oil disguise the fact that the future direction of oil prices is unknown and unknowable. Neither investors nor politicians ought to be betting the economic house on any particular vision of "our energy future."

The fundamental reason for the difficulty associated with forecasting future oil prices is the fact that both demand and supply are relatively inelastic over the short term. That means rather small changes in either can have very large price effects. Hence, those who wish to forecast oil prices are forced to forecast weather patterns, labor relations, gross domestic product (GDP) reports, demographic trends, civil unrest and technological change in all sorts of disparate economic sectors.

Long-run forecasts are no easier to execute. Professor Vaclav Smil of the University of Manitoba has cataloged the vast record of energy forecasts offered by academics, corporations, consultants, trade associations, government agencies, "blue ribbon" commissions, policy activists and "futurists" of all stripes over the past 100 years and finds a "a manifest record of failure." There is simply no reason to believe that mere mortals can foretell oil prices or petroleum market shares in the future, absent some sort of time machine. (Read more)

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