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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez maintains a tempestuous relationship with the United States. His close friendship with Cuba's Fidel Castro, his socialist reforms on behalf of his nation's poor, and his announced intention to spread his 'Bolivarian Revolution' throughout Latin America worries Wall Street and the White House.

So, You Want to Assassinate Hugo Chavez?

Charles T. Maxwell, once one of Wall Street's leading energy analysts, cautions his former colleagues about the wisdom of ignoring peak oil.

By EV World

When the ir-Reverend Pat Robertson recently called for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, it ignited a firestorm of criticism and condemnation. He eventually retracted his comment, though he never apologized.

What the supposed-Christian minister failed to understand was that if someone, either clandestinely for the U.S. government or another group, did succeed in "eliminating" the twice democratically-elected leader of a country that provides 14 percent of America's oil imports, it would, within hours, drive the price of oil to $100 a barrel and create economic havoc for this country, not to mention civil war in Venezuela.

That's the nightmare scenario that respected, though now-retired, Wall Street energy analyst Charles T. Maxwell last month told the American chapter of the Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO-USA) keeps him awake at night.

When people ask him, "What's wrong with America? Why didn't you wake up in '73-74? Why didn't you wake up when the Shah fell?" he replies, "The answer is pretty clear, the emergency didn't last long; and intelligent people looking ahead could see the reasons why it was going to go back to normal, because these were largely manipulated issues."

And just as they predicted, world oil prices eventually collapsed to $10 a barrel, with devastating consequences to the energy industry.

"Now this particular emergency that we're in now," he continued, "and I don't like to call it a crisis, because a real crisis is a lot more serious than what we're going through now. But it is a crisis in the sense that people are not waiting in long lines because we've decided to ration oil by price. And so, people who can't use that oil are not in that line, because they already have been knocked out. It's the old story of demand destruction, It's not something we should be proud of, but something that we should be trying to work around and stop. But it does occur and it's a sign of our failure and a sign of crisis.

"So, high prices equal shortage, and shortage comes about because of an imbalance in which only the price can adjust it. We haven't done the social and political and economic adjustments that will allow us to do it without the harshness of price. Capitalism has much to recommend it, but these sudden, short, harsh changes are the ones that touch off problems with debt, and being a Wall Street man, I am aware of the huge structure, the pyramid of debt that involves us as consumers in this country, that involves corporations, that involves our government, and our international relations where we're borrowing so much from abroad. And one of the signs that people are becoming nervous about their debt with us, the debts that we owe them, is the decline in the value of the dollar.

"So there are a lot of parts to this business about a sudden collapse that are very scary," he said somberly.

Maxwell explains in this 35-minute speech just how scary things are liable to get if we don't take this crisis/emergency seriously. During his address he predicts that oil will eventually average close to $100 a barrel by 2010, not because of civil war in Venezuela or the overthrow of the House of Saud, but just as a natural consequence of oil demand exceeding production, as non-OPEC nation oil production peaks that year and starts to decline, forcing the world to rely even more heavily on OPEC nations, principally in the troubled Middle East.

In the absence of government, media and academic leadership on this issue, he sees the continuation of high energy prices as the only mechanism for driving the investments and research needed to improve the efficiency with which our society uses energy, as well as develop alternative energy sources. He thinks that energy conservation offers a huge investment opportunity.

Twenty-five minutes into his address, Maxwell raises the issue of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the political and economic crisis that would ensue if he were assassinated.

"There are hundreds of things that could disrupt these economic assumptions", he stated. "I think the one that scares me the most is an assassination of [Hugo] Chavez".

Why? Because the economic impact would be immediate and potentially catastrophic.

He concluded his speech with a historic reference to the consequences of the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta, drawing a not-very-subtle analogy to the Bush Administration's aims of empire, seeing Athen's decision to wage war as ultimately destroying Athenian democracy, while sowing the seeds for dictatorship.

"That will be the greatest challenge we face," he warned, as the audience rose in a standing ovation.

As an EV World subscriber, you can listen to this 37:00 minute presentation using either the Flash-based MP3 Player above or by downloading the 9.08 MB file to your computer hard drive for play back on your favorite MP3 device.

EV World expresses its thanks to ASPO USA, Steve Andrews and Randy Udall for granting us permission to attend and record this historic event. The next conference will be held in Boston, Massachusetts in 2006.

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Times Article Viewed: 16999
Published: 12-Dec-2005

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