$200 a Barrel or Bust: the Oil Price Spike

How can we have record high prices and major global recession? We can't.

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A few thoughts on the spike in oil prices:

1) Is there a ton of speculation in the price? You bet. (And that has caused plenty of fear in stocks.) But picking the top in a bubble requires more smarts than I have or anyone I have ever met has. Still, that contango situation in oil prices—where spot contracts trade at a lower price than futures—is often a sign of the beginning of the end.

2) What Arjun Murti of Goldman Sachs and oilman turned wind entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens say right now is more important than what anyone in Washington says.

3) I don't see $200-a-barrel oil and the economic depression some bears have predicted because of the credit crunch as coexisting in the same economic universe.

4) You want a plan to get us off oil? Here is one.

5) How about the hydrogen economy? One estimate thinks it would take 700 reactors and cost $4 trillion. Three words in response: pebble bed reactors. I will also admit a soft spot for concentrated solar power and deep geothermal energy.

6) Congress wants to sue OPEC. I am pretty sure it would take years to pull off and ultimately wouldn't work. Plus, I am not sure the Saudis could produce much more oil even if they wanted to.

7) Don't forget about coal. As a recent JPMorgan report looks at "the cost of various coal-to-liquid technologies, along with a selection of other alternatives, factoring in the cost of carbon dioxide sequestration and cost of carbon permits.... [The report] shows that coal-to-liquid technologies—and there are a number of promising technologies beyond the current Fischer-Tropsch method used in South Africa—become economically competitive, make a reasonable return on investment, when oil prices reach $110 per barrel. The global reserves for this fuel are massive and better aligned geographically with the demand for such fuel."

8) This is my version of the famous clarion call Carthago delenda est: The dollar must be strengthened!