Friday, May 30, 2008

It's about increasing demand as well...

As incomes rise, economies use more energy for transport, heating and cooling and producing goods and services. A broad cross section of nearly 180 countries shows that doubling per capita income more than doubles per capita oil consumption (Chart 2). How much each country contributes to increases in global energy demand depends on its population and rate of income growth. Big nations moving quickly up the income ladder have huge implications for oil markets.

I am sick and tired with so many Indonesian experts and commentators that saying the recent fuel price hike should be canceled because Pertamina (Indonesia Oil Company) must be able to increase their oil production to meet domestic demand. Despite of inefficiency within Pertamina production strategy, does anybody aware that the 4th population rank in the world to some extent contribute to increasing demand of oil as well - at least at national level?

If we believe that economic activities in Indonesia still on going progress (in other words, Indonesian economy still growing), then it is quite certain that demand for energy also getting higher and higher. In addition to that fact, higher population also adding up the potential. This is the simple proof that pricing policy in oil sectors become ineffective. Why? Because higher demand for oil with wider price differential i.e. market price vis-à-vis subsidy price will creating potential greater market disequilibrium. In short, higher demand with great price differentiation will always distorting the market that cause the price constantly rising.

Then people will questioning, what should we do with such condition? There are only three solution in medium and long term. First, consume energy in efficient way. Second, please support and demand alternative energy, especially the renewable one. Third, keep consuming energy in efficient way no matter what energy source we consumed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Ready for higher fuel price?

Scarcity causes higher prices, and that's a good thing. Higher gas prices lead to conservation on the part of consumers, exploration on the part of producers, and innovation on the part of alternative energy entrepreneurs.
… Price controls, gas rationing, windfall profit taxes, gas tax holidays … are all bad policies that may make you (and politicians) happier in the short run but will make everyone miserable in the long run. Your solution to high gas prices is to adapt"

I wish that Indonesian start to realize how long they enjoyed BBM subsidy and what is the impact of those enjoyment. For more than 30 years, low price of BBM - due to subsidy, not only affecting national budget but also over-consumption behavior, under-production strategy, lack innovation on energy efficiency. And, another but very long run impact of such low price of BBM is our environmental quality degradation. It happened not only by giving up our natural resources - i.e. oil stock - simply for consumption, but also pollution externality and other degraded environmental depletion.

Now, you may tell me that I do not care for poor people?
I can answer you the same way you rejected increasing price of BBM, "There are still another way". There are still a lot of ways to help the poor. Keeping price of BBM low only give the poor pain killer, but not panacea. When you force us to swollen the pill of "BBM subsidy", then whether you realize it or not, you close the door for another way to help the poor.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Economics of Just-Do-It

What is someone told you that the price your favorite candy (mine is Polo mint) will go up significantly in two week? Most candy-cholic will buy more and stock some of the candy. It is legal and the rational things to do.

But what if many people also want to stock the candy? And after a while the seller of the candy also stock and hoard the candy. That’s mean you can only buy a few or not at all.

So who benefit from the knowledge of upcoming price increase? Those with the most access and money to buy candy and sell it later. It is a sure profit since the price will be increased for sure. Not sound so pro-poor to me.

Sometime the best things to do are to just do it. Planned well and prepare all the administrative/organizational detail, then make the announcement. Information are not always best when they are disseminated early. Even Stiglitz will approve that asymmetric information in some cases make better output than (almost) perfectly symmetric information

Change candy to fuel (both are addictive and hard to live without). And you got to read things like this in the newspaper.