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James Hamilton

James Hamilton

James is the Editor of Econbrowser – a popular economics blog that Analyses current economic conditions and policy.

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Rapidly Increasing Chinese Oil Demand

Stuart Staniford notes that the number of trucks and passenger vehicles in China has been growing at about 23% each year.

Vehicle growth rates for U.S. and China
Vehicle growth rates for U.S. and China. Source: Early Warning.

You don't have to extrapolate that too far into the future to come up with a pretty scary picture.

Number of vehicles in U.S. and China
Number of vehicles in U.S. and China. Source: Early Warning.

Is that a silly extrapolation? Stuart notes that the plot for 2015 would still leave the U.S. with 7 times as many vehicles per person as China. And the level of oil consumption per person in China today is 1/3 the current oil consumption per person in Mexico ([1], [2]). No question, there's potential for a lot more growth in demand from China

What's substantially less clear is where the oil to fuel those cars could come from.

By. James Hamilton

Reproduced from Econbrowser


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  • Anonymous on June 15 2011 said:
    There is one marvelous explanation for the vehicle growth in China, even though the means for fueling those vehicles is unclear, and in fact may not exist. The Chinese leadership has gone bonkers.The problem is that that is kind of explanation to expect from the geniuses who decided to go to war in Libya, and to prolong the US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sensible observers - to include my good self - will draw another conclusion, however I think that I will do myself a favor and not discuss that conclusion here.I will however give interested persons a clue. The Chinese army that stopped our advance in Korea was a rag-tag army, andafter getting a good look at what we had at our disposal, it was difficult not to believe that their time in history had arrived.

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