Разоблачение нефтяных баронов

ВАШИНГТОН, ОКРУГ КОЛУМБИЯ – За последние восемнадцать месяцев цены на нефть выросли больше чем в два раза, что повлекло за собой огромные издержки для мировой экономики. Высокий мировой спрос, благодаря таким развивающимся экономическим системам как Китай, несомненно, частично подстегнул повышение цен. Но масштаб скачка цен превышает обычные факторы спроса и предложения, указывая на роль спекуляции – и подчеркивая необходимость политических действий для того, чтобы привести в порядок нефтяной рынок.

Отражая свою веру в рынки, большинство экономистов отклоняет идею о том, что спекуляция виновна в повышении цен. Если бы спекуляция действительно была причиной, спорят они, то должно было произойти увеличение материальных запасов нефти, потому что более высокие цены сократили бы потребление, вынуждая спекулянтов накапливать нефть. Тот факт, что материальные запасы не увеличились, предположительно, реабилитирует нефтяных спекулянтов.

Но картина является гораздо более сложной, потому что спрос на нефть является крайне нечувствительным к цене. В течение короткого времени трудно отрегулировать потребление в техническом плане. Например, топливная экономичность каждого автомобиля и грузовика является неизменной, и большинство поездок предпринимаются не по собственному усмотрению. Хотя более высокие цены на авиа билеты могут снизить покупки, авиалинии сокращают потребление нефти, только когда они отменяют полеты.

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