Ed Dolan's Econ Blog

Roubini Topic Archive: Commodities

  • How Natural is Natural Monopoly? The Case of China’s Crumbling Hold on Rare Earths

    Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of seventeen elements with exotic names like neodymium and yttrium that are key ingredients in many high-tech products, many important for national defense. Imagine the consternation of Western officials when they woke up one morning in September 2010 to learn that China held a near-monopoly in the production […]

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  • How Fuel Subsidies Around the World Burden the Rich and the Poor Alike, with Lessons for the US

    I have posted frequently (most recently in a three-part series that starts here) on the topic of underpricing of energy in the United States, but we are not the only offender. Many countries around the world subsidize consumer energy prices in ways that bring them to levels even lower than what U.S. consumers pay. These […]

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  • The Dubious Economics of Crop Insurance

    Insurance is an essential part of the financial infrastructure of a market economy. By spreading losses among members of a group with similar exposure, insurance encourages people to take prudent risks while protecting individuals from ruin in case they are the unlucky ones. Not all risks are insurable, however. Attempts to insure the uninsurable create […]

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  • Arguments against Exporting Natural Gas Don’t Add Up

    The energy policy topic of the week is whether to export more of America’s newly abundant natural gas. Like any good card-carrying economist, my instincts favor free trade. Other things being equal, that makes me pro-export. Still, shouldn’t we listen to what the other side has to say? Maybe gas is different. Maybe exporting it […]

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  • Why Olive Oil, Good for the Body, is Becoming Bad for the Pocketbook

    It seems there almost nothing bad about olive oil. It is delicious, of course, and if you are a connoisseur, you can get as much pleasure from a fine bottle of olive oil as from a premium Brunello di Montalcino. A  high content of monosaturated fats makes olive oil among the most heart-healthy of all […]

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  • Will Fracking Enrich India’s Guar Farmers? Or America’s?

    A New York Times story last week featured a picture of a happy Indian farmer in his new house, a replacement for a miserable mud hut. His sister, a scarf modestly hiding her face from the photographer, extends her arm to show a new silver bracelet and ring. The house and the silver were bought […]

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  • Please, Secretary Chu, Retract your Retraction. High Gas Prices are Good. You Were Right the First Time.

    Why would a president want to bring an eminent scientist like Energy Secretary Steven Chu into government? In the hope, one would suppose, that he would speak truth to power. Sadly, that hope seems to have been been dashed in the case of Secretary Chu.  In 2008, before becoming part of the cabinet, he had […]

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  • Natural Gas Flaring, Carbon Taxes, and the Risk of Alien Invasion

    To an alien orbiting Earth in a flying saucer, natural gas flares would be one of the most visible signs of human life on earth. Notice I said “human life,” not “intelligent life.” Flaring is the practice of burning off the natural gas that is produced in association with oil rather than piping it to […]

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  • Why Rick Perry’s Position on Climate Change Makes Him a True Conservative

    Rick Perry is a climate-change skeptic. Sure, he says, the world is getting warmer, but the climate has often changed. He doesn’t buy in to the idea that human activity has an effect on the current warming trend. Friedrich Hayek would say that makes him a true conservative. Hayek liked to view the political spectrum […]

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  • Is a 56.2 MPG Fuel Economy Standard Really a Good Idea?

    According to news reports, the Obama administration is talking to automakers about raising the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standard for passenger cars to 56.2 miles per gallon by 2025, more than double the  27.5 MPG in force for the 20 years up to 2010. Economists, even those like myself who favor policies to reduce fuel […]

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