Oil prices go higher and gas at the pump is nearly $5 a gallon. There is no real hope that a new president will have any affect on a movement that is beyond one man’s actions.
We fail to understand the totality of forces driving the price of oil so high. Maybe it is, as we read, a combination of demand, dwindling reserves, political events, and a seemingly endless ability of the American consumer to continue to pay.
Consider the scene here in southern California where I am frequenting the pool and the beach. On the twelve-house cull de sac where I stay, there are at least two large cars outside each house, and sometimes three large cars. My guess is that the average street gas consumption is less than twenty miles to the gallon.
The smallest cars are the new Mercedes that pop up regularly on adjacent drive-ways. I have as yet to see a genuine small car appear. My daughter and son-in-law have an SUV and one of those behemoth Ford 150s that cost between them about $500 a month to gas up. Both cars are paid for, so they are typical of one side of the dilemma: keep paying or buy two new small cars that will halve the gas bill.
The maths just do not add up. Why undertake a $1,000 a month car payment commitment, when that will reduce the gas bill by half, say $250 a month? The maths tell us that the gas price will have to jump four-fold to make it imperative that they replace the big cars with hybrids. They are in the same boat as their neighbors, except the very rich who are buying those small Mercedes sports cars.
Where this leave you as an investor, other than the need to make higher returns, is an open question. I leave it to your smarts to decide what mining sector will yield those higher returns as gas quadruples in price. Maybe copper for the hybrids that one day may be cost-effective. Or maybe uranium for the plants that will be needed to power the garage plug-in points.
Certainly I would not recommend African mines. The happy welcome of Mugabe in Egypt reassures us that he and seemingly all of Africa is in the grip of a bunch of bully-boy, medieval robber barons. As gas goes higher, they will no doubt become more venial and vicious to support their expensive desires. And the mines will go down, one after the other, as they seek to take more of what is not theirs.
That leaves us with mines in Canada: oil sands mining, uranium mines, copper mines, and potash mines. All getting expensive, but, in my opinion, worth the extra price for the added security and the obvious coming need for ever more of their products.
I refrain from United States mines as current new investments for these reasons: (a) continued uncertainty over the fate of the 1872 Mining Law; (b) uncertainly over the next president and what he will do to benefit or savage mining; and (c) the potentially dire impact on the United States economy of gas that costs $10 and $20 a gallon.
Meanwhile, get used to running the gauntlet of large cars in the supermarket parking lot.