China and California Following Similar Energy Policies

A couple of years ago, California suffered through a summer of electricity blackouts while the state and  state-protected power monopolies nearly bankrupted themselves.  While California politicians have tried to cover their behinds by blaming Enron for the problems, the real mistake that led to the debacle was allowing the wholesale price of electricity to float higher, while the retail price remained low and fixed.  As a result, as wholesale prices skyrocketed, the State and the power monopolies had to buy high and sell low, causing massive financial losses.  At the same time, consumers saw no change in prices, so they had no incentive to change their behavior and cut back on usage, which they would have done if retail electricity prices had been allowed to rise with the market.

Via Instapundit and Gateway Pundit, comes this article about gas shortages in China and the ensuing lines at retail gas stations, that look worse than anything we suffered through in this country.  The article makes fairly clear what is going on:

The Chinese government and its state-owned oil companies are locked
in battle over artificially low gasoline prices at the pump that has
caused a massive shortage in the southern manufacturing province of

For weeks skyrocketing global oil prices and rising
demand has led to a fuel-supply crunch as domestic refineries have been
caught short in Guangdong.

Some fear it is only a matter of time before gas-guzzling cities such as Shanghai are hit too.

government has blamed recent stormy weather for the shortfall, which is
feasible but not enough to result in the kilometre long queues at
filling stations that drivers in Guangdong have endured for nearly a

As oil prices climbed, a standoff erupted between China's
National Development Reform Commission (NDRC) -- a key economic policy
planning body -- and the country's two largest state oil groups
PetroChina and Sinopec, analysts said Wednesday.

The crisis
highlights the persistent problems Beijing faces as the economy is
transformed to a more market-based system but that is often retarded by
authorities who fear loosing political control in the face of
full-fledged capitalist rules.

I blame Enron.  Anyway, I wrote about gas line and what caused them in the US here.  Some genius also attempted the same policy as China is pursuing in post-war Iraq, with similar results.


  1. James Hamilton:

    Very interesting and appropriate analogy.

  2. gary lammert:

    California, because of its hamburger stands and curiously real estate valued on the myopic American coastal scale, has a GSP greater than the GNP of China. Nevertheless, the Chinese has energy requirements that is valued on the global market scale. Which economy truely produces the most global value? with this intro, a tangential thought is made:

    Is the global economy at the brink of a breakdown much greater than its predecessor in 1929? How do the current imbalances compare to those late Roaring Twenties' similar circumstances of consumer-level forward consumption, debt, overvaluation of assets, and industrial overcapacity? Will the devaluation and asset decay process at the end of the second 70 year sub-fractal - contained within the 140 year Second Grand Fractal cycle beginning in 1858 - be greater than at the end of its first 70 year sub-fractal?

    A chicken in every pot and two cars in every garage has been replaced with eating out three of seven nights at the plethora of fast food and dining opportunities that 'froth' the highways and typify the service type of economy the States have become. Three SUV's and a Hummer distributed between a primary residence and an investment residence have superseded the two cars in a garage. Buy a radio or washer on credit has been bested with buy and buy with abandon everything imaginable with ubiquitously facilitated debt from refinanced or second mortgages based on the surety of ever appreciating house prices -the latter caused in part by fed fund rates 1/4 of the rates in 1928.

    The evenly balanced declining and increasing annual GDP growth rates prior to 1929 have been replaced with continuous positive annual GDP's growth rates during the past 45 years. The great creditor nation status of 1929 has been substituted with a beggar man debtor bravado country wearing only the emperor's new clothes. Its treasury is writing bad checks against future income that can only be guaranteed if the remaining 57 percent of the US private (nongovernmental) work force becomes governmentalized allowing a Weimar type of hyperinflation. In short the consumer saturation point of 1929 looks very appealing against the very poor economic hand that America now holds. Consider America's current financial balance sheet and thereafter consider how badly the unbalanced excesses of 1929 unfolded.

    In the next nine weeks, data - which has always been there - will be re-recognized. GM's and Ford's junk bond status and their probability of default on a collective 450 billion dollars of debt will reappear. The thousand mirrors that reflect a single dollar in the derivatives markets will have key reflecting glasses broken erasing the image in 925. The housing bubble, that is so historically remarkable in its uniqueness in that virtually all know it to be a bubble, will crack. The microcosm of forward consumption in the last two months of the American auto business will witness the expected necessary microcosm of historically poor follow-on monthly sales. Major airlines will throw in the towel declaring bankruptcy and pension amnesty. Declining monthly GDP will receive attention. The real position of the individual debtor and the debtor country in the face of declining asset valuations and projected tax revenues will get its due. Fiscally impossible city and state governmental pension funds whose futures are tied to the equity markets and escalating real estate property values will have a viability reality check. For the first time in many years the concept of consumer retrenchment will be seriously and widely explored as a probable scenario.

    The comparative initiating decay fractals at the secondary summit, with respect to March 2000, of US equity indices suggest a very remarkable primary revaluation. Watch the general trend and descent of the long term US note and bond debt markets as exiting money from equities and commodities flows into these long term debt instruments driving their interest rates lower. Gold has potentially only one more week before completing its maximal 12/30/30 weekly growth cycle with an abrupt devaluation. Opposite to gold, the dollar will transiently trend well. Expect the unexpected. Within this quantum fractal decay process, expect nonlinearity. Gary Lammert "