Leveraging Expectations: Bringing Down Oil Prices Immediately

Sun Tzu's Sun Tzu's strategy teaches that it is much easier to change people's subjective view of a position than the physical position itself, and that, by changing people's subjective views, you can leverage real physical changes very easily. This seems like magic, but let us use high oil prices as an example. Despite what the politicians says, they could bring down oil prices dramatically right away if they leveraged people's expectations about the future. Much of the high price of oil is driven by speculation about the future: people are bidding up and holding oil future because they expect oil to be more in demand and less plentiful in the future. Because they expect prices to go up in the future, there is no incentive for producers to bring oil out of the ground now. If the politicians offered a ten year tax holiday for all oil production from new sources brought into the market for the next five years and at the same time permitted companies to drill in an ecologically sound way where the oil was, what would happen to people's expectations about the future prices of oil? Speculators would expect the prices to fall in the foreseeable future, which would drive down oil futures. Seeing future prices fall, existing producers would have an immediate incentive to get as much oil on the market now, before prices fall more from new production. What politicians are doing now, threatening oil producers and oil investors with punishment and extra taxes, has the opposite effect, raising their expectations of a more difficult and costly market in the future, raising the cost of oil. We are all paying a high price for the politicians' desire to "fight" an enemy instead of understanding the situation and leveraging people's expectations.