It seems to be an extraordinarily popular position to take , among those who want a simple explanation for the world wide economy doing poorly, to say that the worlds economic troubles are due to the high price of oil.
I have no doubt that the high price of oil over the last decade or so, on average, has had a LOT to do with the economy being sluggish, but personally I think blaming it on the price of oil, without even MENTIONING anything else, is ………… well , I just can’t come up with any words except simple minded, naive, ill informed, or others even less polite.
Coming to the conclusion that high oil prices HAVE HAD a lot to do with the slow economy is entirely justifiable, no doubt.
But concluding that the economy will REMAIN slow if the price of oil goes up again is in my estimation is jumping to an unjustified conclusion. It might indeed stay sluggish, but if it does, it will be due to many factors, with the price of oil being only one of the many.
I may be too much of a generalist or big picture thinker, and not enough of a specialist, but unless oil spikes up VERY sharply, over a short time frame , the price of oil is not going to break the back of the world economy.
There is this phenomenon we call adaptation, and while we are sort of slow at getting started adapting sometimes, we can and do do so with a vengeance, once it becomes a an obvious practical matter involving our day to day life.
WHEN the price of oil goes above a hundred bucks plus per barrel, the assembly lines at electrified automobile and battery plants will be humming around the clock around the calendar.
People will respond, given time, to high oil prices by buying cars and light trucks that get far better fuel economy, changing their driving habits, moving closer to town, using more transit, more car pooling, etc.
The overall economy will adapt by way of minimizing travel, such as for tourism, which will be very painful for the people in tourism, but they will find other things to do, eventually.
This will take some time, no question. But cars and trucks that get twice the miles per gallon are easily doable. We don’t really NEED a huge airline industry, although it employs a lot of people. Farmers are producing more units of food output per liter of diesel year after year.
In five to ten years, with the price of oil creeping up steadily, we will see VOLTS , LEAFS, Tesla THREES and similar cars getting to be quite common place indeed.
New building codes will reduce the amount of energy needed to heat and cool houses and other new buildings by twenty percent or more within a decade or so.
Now for what it is worth, I do expect the overall economy to remain sluggish to bed ridden, compared to recent go go decades, but not just because of the price of oil going up. We are running short of many things, not just oil, and politicians have made a hell of a lot more promises than they are ever going to be able to keep.
I don’t expect cars to keep selling in record numbers world wide too many more years, but I DO expect to see the production of new pure electric or plug in hybrid cars and light trucks to grow extremely rapidly, ESPECIALLY WHEN the price of oil goes up.
Now as far as the self driving aspect of new cars is concerned, once the technology is fully developed, it will be cheaper to own and operate a self driving car than a conventional car, due to lower insurance costs and lower fuel costs. Durability will be as good or better than conventional new cars.
Self driving cars can easily be programmed to go automatically to the nearest unoccupied charging station, and such stations will become very common as time passes. So even with a smallish battery capable of only fifty to a hundred miles driving range, such cars will be capable of running quite a few miles on a daily basis.
A fully self driving VOLT will be able to handle a hundred mile round trip commute with near zero gasoline consumption by plugging itself into an automated charging station near the owners place of employment. A fully autonomous VOLT will probably be available in five or six years. A BOLT will need to plug itself in only once in three days in most cases, because most people don’t drive that far on a daily basis.
I worked with horses and mules as a child, enough to learn how, and my grandparents grew up without electricity or motor vehicles. Now I am sitting here playing with a flattened out crystal ball better than any crystal ball I ever encountered in a fantasy novel.