Former CIBC World Markets chief economist Jeff Rubin has just published a new book on peak oil, titled Why Your World is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller: Oil and the End of Globalization.
Rubin is an interesting character. Despite his high-profile position at a major financial institution, he has been writing about peak oil for years. In September 2005 he predicted that oil prices would top $100 by the end of 2007. Despite all the scoffing, he was off by only a few days.
Nevertheless, his economic opinions - however well-founded from the evidence - grew increasingly incompatible with his position as a prudent investment bank economist, and he parted ways with CIBC World Markets this past March.
Raise the Hammer will be reviewing this book in the near future. In the meantime, I read an interesting passage in Todd Hirsch's May 25, 2009 review for the Globe and Mail. Hirsch writes:
No serious economist would deny the premise of 'peak oil' or, at the very least, that 'plateau oil' is upon us, save for the vested interests in the energy patch with share prices to protect.
How quickly they forget.
Just a couple of years, ago, the very concept of "peak oil" was strictly verboten among mainstream economists, being limited to geologists - who are in the main more interested in what's actually in the ground than in what neoliberal theory demands - and a very tiny number of economists, including investment banker Matt Simmons (Twilight in the Desert), a couple of researchers at Goldman Sachs Global Investment Research, and Rubin himself.
Their compelling arguments were flat-out ignored by just about everyone else in- and outside the economics profession; and an economist's tendency to ignore peak oil was strongly correlated with his or her proximity to a broadcast TV camera.
Mainstream chatter about peak oil did tend to increase during the first half of 2008 as oil prices climbed toward $150 per barrel, though it all but disappeared during the price collapse of the second half of the year - just as the "bumpy plateau" was playing out exactly as peak oil theory predicted.
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