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92 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now, this is what a wake up call looks like!
As a student of international political economy and a retired journalist who knows how diligently those who benefit from consumption driven economic growth have tried to prevent "peak oil" from going mainstream, I cannot imagine a better introduction for the masses.

After a 20 year stint as chief economist for CIBC World Markets, Rubin is a figure in a position...
Published on May 22 2009 by Lotta Read Rocket Hood

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Back to a future of calluses again?
The book's central theme is that oil is at the very foundation upon which the world economy prospers or falls. Take oil - that is cheap oil - out of the equation, and the world we know ceases to exist.

The author makes compelling arguments why the supply & demand curves do not apply where one is confronted with a diminishing resource and convincingly shows that...
Published on May 25 2011 by sedgewick


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92 of 102 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now, this is what a wake up call looks like!, May 22 2009
As a student of international political economy and a retired journalist who knows how diligently those who benefit from consumption driven economic growth have tried to prevent "peak oil" from going mainstream, I cannot imagine a better introduction for the masses.

After a 20 year stint as chief economist for CIBC World Markets, Rubin is a figure in a position to know. The book is a searing indictment of the flat-earth stupidity that marks today's disciples of popular economic theory. He exposes a painfully obvious oversight: Conventional economic "wisdom", blinded by the dogmatic adherence to supply and demand thinking has overlooked one thing - MORE SUPPLY CAN'T COME ON LINE IN RESPONSE TO INCREASED DEMAND IF NATURE IS LIMITING THE SUPPLY.

Theory falls when facts kick you in the teeth. We have been listening to economists when we should have been listening to petroleum geologists.

With credit to Kunstler, Heinberg and other leaders who paved the way for him, Rubin is someone the suits will take seriously, if for no other reason than he was one of them. There is a lot of shame to go around among our academic, corporate and political leaders. Whether they are malicious, myopic or in denial, this book is going to make holding their noses high at cocktail parties a much sweatier and nerve-racking affair.

In a tight, conversational style with substantial cheek, Rubin embarrasses a civilization with this book and begs them to explore rationality and begin preparing for a harsh dose of reality. The cheap energy binge party is over - we'd better get set for the hangover.

Thanks Mr. Rubin
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrifying, Thrilling and Sobering, July 9 2009
By 
J. Tobin Garrett (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
I had high expectations for this book, and was not disappointed. Not only is Jeff Rubin an entertaining writer who knows what he is talking about, but he's also not afraid to take risks and go against some mainstream thoughts surrounding peak oil, energy efficiency, free trade, pricing carbon, spending money on failing auto industries and road infrastructure, and biofuels.

It may not be the most uplifting book, but its importance is paramount. Rubin first examines the global oil scarcity issue, and the economics of scarce oil and ever increasingly difficult and energy intensive oil production, and then he goes into issue surrounding environmental effects of oil, global trade effects, and transportation effects (which is, of course, tied with trade).

It's a frightening read at parts, but thrilling as well. Rubin has some great ideas surrounding the implementation of a carbon tariff on imported items in order to level the playing field for home companies that are dealing with carbon taxes (in B.C.) and a soon to be carbon cap and trade policy. This would give the comparative advantage back to home companies as the carbon tariff on what was once cheap imported items would increase the price on those imports if they were made using cheap, but dirty energy. Couple that with high transportation costs, and home manufacturing will look a lot more likely. Not to mention better for the environment.

The "Going Local" chapter is Rubin's speculation about the effects peak oil will have on our lifestyles here in the developed nations, looking at our food, coffee, electronics and a host of other items which are assembled globally. It is one of the only chapters that has Rubin playing futurist rather than rational economist, and so was, for me, the weakest of the parts of the book (however interesting his predictions were).

In terms of style, Rubin had a tendency to repeat himself several times throughout the book, as if he thought readers would forget points made by him only 100 pages earlier, but this is easily overlooked.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Now I hope I know.., May 11 2010
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Absolutely brilliant!! I have found all what I was asking myself about last 30 years of world's economy, globalization, climat change and recent financial crisis. This book cannot be missed, cause it prepares you to what is going to happen in the near future due to shortage of oil. I have pretty clear picture about it now.. We will shift into another reality. Globalization caused huge damage, future generations will pay for it. It will be painful, but the end is near!
But Rubin does not spell the doom and gloom. He predicts that soon, due to rising cost of energy, oil and transportation, and due to carbon tax (to stop climate change), we will be able to buy pair of socks from the factory two streets away from where we dwell(instead from China)! So everything has its good and bad side.
This book, along the "The Upside of Down" by Thomas Homer-Dixon, is a treasure.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jeff Rubin puts all pieces of puzzle together, Oct. 12 2009
By 
C. Chen (Montreal, QC, Canada) - See all my reviews
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All information in this book are readily available on the internet, but Jeff Rubin did a great job putting them together with explanation.

While reading his book, many arguments come to my mind casting a doubt on his theories, but I immediately find the answer to my arguments few pages later with facts and numbers backing his explanation.

As the chief economist of CIBC, Jeff definitively know what he is writing. I am surprised on how easily he explained some economics concepts/formulas using few simple examples.

This book definitively worth reading and re-reading. If you are an investor, the few money this book costs is nothing compared to potential gain from stocks.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Back to a future of calluses again?, May 25 2011
The book's central theme is that oil is at the very foundation upon which the world economy prospers or falls. Take oil - that is cheap oil - out of the equation, and the world we know ceases to exist.

The author makes compelling arguments why the supply & demand curves do not apply where one is confronted with a diminishing resource and convincingly shows that oil really is a diminishing resource. As if that were not in itself disquieting enough, he goes on to discuss the added demand pressures from newly developing giants such as India and China as well as the `cannibalization' of significant supplies by OPEC countries through excessive internal subsidies. Jeff Rubin also demonstrates that the West, despite all its efforts in becoming more energy efficient, is actually using more oil than ever before through the rebound effect. Ethanol perhaps, or wind turbines to get us off the oil fix? The author's economic scalpel dissects and finally discards them both for good reasons.

The reader is always led back to oil, and by the time you get that far, it sounds compelling that oil is at the root of everything, from recessions to economic bubbles. Whether it is inflation or deflation, financial derivatives, Wall Street greed or lax bankers and regulators - all is attributable to oil according to Jeff Rubin. I am no economist, but that is where I think the book looses its way and the oil-theme begins to take precedence over every other economic complexity to drive home the point. Yet, almost as a footnote, the author also contradicts his theme on several occasions, not the least by conceding that inflation in the postwar years (Korean War) and later in the aftermath of the Vietnam War was primarily caused by racking up massive deficits from financing these conflicts. Further, what do plainly bad business decisions in corporate and regulators' boardrooms have to do with the price of a barrel of oil?

The author explores an interesting aspect of the world economy, when he discusses Ricardo's Theory of Comparative Advantage in terms of carbon emission efficiency in the West and the need for countervailing tariffs to create a more equal playing field among manufacturers. Nevertheless, by inserting the emission issue, Rubin departs from his main theme, that oil is finite and can only become dearer, which it does regardless of carbon emissions. Mind you, by bringing up the environmental cost and pondering on the emission reductions achieved by the West to be more than offset by those belching out of Chinese and Indian smokestacks and tailpipes, he also makes clear that we could not keep on traveling the oily road no matter if there were unlimited supply of the stuff available for use.

Any reader who is hoping to learn from Jeff Rubin viable alternatives about meeting our present energy needs in a post-cheap-oil-world will be disappointed. There is barely a note on future and present alternatives. Nuclear energy, the old bogeyman, is only mentioned in lauding France for thus having achieved a comparative advantage on emission efficiency with its 75% dependency on that carbon neutral energy source.

"Why Your World Is About To Get a Lot Smaller" is an apocalyptic book written for the mass market. It is the economic version of "The Day After Tomorrow", only with a soothing, shall I say, nostalgic twist to appeal to the environmentalists among its reading audience: We all go back to a simpler world, where things are made locally, food being grown locally, travel restricted to short trips, neighbours will get to know each other again, all because fuel and transportation costs will make shipping and travel prohibitively expensive. The global economy will become unhinged and collapse of its own weight, apparently with nary a ripple of world wide social unrest and discontent, and we will all be the happier for it...

The mantra is that we will repatriate outsourced jobs, "clean the cobwebs" from mothballed factories and go back to the future the economic way. Apart from the fact that repatriation is not as straightforward as that, and Rubin alludes to the difficulties in making the wrenching changes to infrastructure, supply lines and the like, it ignores that not all manufacturing is offshore, because of advantages in labor costs and cheap shipping costs. Just ask yourself why Japanese products, especially its cars, look and feel like mid- and upmarket American cars should be, not to mention their dependability, while the US auto industry keeps on either producing gas-guzzling monsters or, well, to some extent the sons of the Pinto. Detroit was not destroyed by foreign competition but by its own arrogance and incompetence.

So how could the process of going from `global' to `local' look like according to Jeff Rubin? The disintegration of the Soviet Union of all places is offered as kind of a blue print how a society can `re-invent' itself after the collapse of its economy and structure of governance, conveniently ignoring that the citizens of the former Soviet Union had very little to lose but much to aspire for and still do.

Jeff Rubin is too brilliant an economist not to realize that `going local' is not that simple and that the idyllic pre-WWII Utopia he paints,(never mind the Great Depression then)reads a bit like a children's fairy tale or at least a trip into Nostalgia-Land. He hedges with a number of serious reflections such as the one on page 273 `we are liberal and tolerant, because we are prosperous', the underlying message of which is that democracy works best on a full stomach and rising expectations, that a populace suddenly being deprived of what it was addicted to, could lurch towards dangerous instability and hence political territory. And that is what we might expect in our comfortable, coddled Western societies. The results for the developing world could be a return to the abject poverty they are just beginning to escape from.

If you get right down to it, going local or not, Jeff Rubin's book predicts nothing less than the end of the prosperous post-war Middle Class, the return to a hard grind, and as he puts it, getting used to calluses again. He omits to say that with it will also come the return of the `Ancien Regime' again, because, let's face it, the really Rich (or Well Connected) will still retain their privileges as they have through all the centuries before. The end of the global economy is nothing to wish for.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Scary stuff, July 27 2009
By 
bookweasel (Calgary AB) - See all my reviews
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I have seen Jeff present for many years. He is known for his outrageous opinions, right about 75% of the time. This book follows on but do not take the 25% failure rate as comfort and an excuse not to believe. The 75% is here and its the scary stuff.
An interesting and beautifully written book with a serious message. Well outside the continuous drivel of how I was a great business success. (Ever notice how those authors often subsequently crash and burn.) If you read this book and capitalize on its ideas you will be well set to take your business through the coming cycles.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's next after cheap oil is gone?, June 24 2009
Jeff Rubin presents several well considered scenarios that could flow from a dwindling supply of cheap oil for oil consumption based global economy. Although I believe it is impossible to come close to predicting a future where so many variables are at play....it is worth considering at least the first changes that emerge when/if we run out of cheap oil. This book is well researched and written and should be on your summer reading list.

Glenn
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4.0 out of 5 stars interesting and provocative, June 9 2010
By 
I found the book easy to read and the predictions soberingly realistic. The problem that I find is that the statistics on the actual available petroleum supplies--is difficult to predict how long the oil will continue to lubricate the world's present economy... Is it really 50 yrs from now, I have read somewhere that there could be another 200 yrs worth of oil on earth...so these dire predictions might not come about for a while. Despite that, the problem is not so much oil per se, but the fact that corporations are putting profits ahead of socially and ecological accountabilities and responsibilities. Companies/individuals and corporations must be held acccountable for all of the havoc that they wreak on the earth, on our environment and our health... What we need is a world court where these individuals/corporations could be indicted for their neglience of manufacturing products for consumers without any regard for the environment and the people on this earth. Effluents and air pollution doesn't affect just locally, but affect all over the world...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Provocative if Simplistic, Sept. 12 2009
By 
Gordon Ritchie "Woodpusher" (Ottawa, Canada) - See all my reviews
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Rubin is well known for his unconventional thinking, notably his accurate prediction of much higher oil prices at the turn of the last century. His latest book takes that essential premise---that oil prices must rise steadily over the coming years---and provides considerable elaboration of the supports for this thesis and the dramatic implications. One does not have to buy his entire argument to find his book very stimulating especially in bursting bubbles of complacency around energy prices and globalization. Worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars To better understand you world, and economics, Nov. 16 2010
This review is from: Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller (Paperback)
As a stock market investor, I wanted to learn more about the most traded commodity. The bonus was that I is that I also got to better understand how our entire world turns...

Fascinating and extremely informative. Easy to read with tons of examples, facts, and light humour.

Loved it!

Fred
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Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller
Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller by Jeff Rubin (Paperback - Sept. 28 2010)
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