Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The prince's jet: Conspicuous consumption, or recycling? 

Earlier this week we learned that Saudi billionaire Prince Walid bin Talal has forked over more than $300 million for a flying palace in the form of an Airbus jumbo jet. As the New York Times editorializes this morning, this is ridiculously conspicuous consumption. True enough. But it is also recycling. Every time some oil sheikh buys anything -- and I mean literally anything, because the major Arab and Muslim oil exporting countries produce virtually nothing worth buying other than oil and gas -- with the money "earned" from the sale of petroleum, the money flows back into the global economy where sensible people can make good use of it. (Intellectual honesty requires me to admit that bin Talal is also a pretty good investor, but in that skill he is rare among the lords of oil.) A decent percentage of that money will make its way back to the United States, where we will invest some of it at a higher rate of return than can be earned in most parts of the world and blow the rest of it on more oil.

Of course, it would have been more efficient if the Prince had bought a Boeing jet, because then we would not have to pay French pensioners a vig to put the money to work, but it will get back here eventually as long as we run the American economy to generate high returns on investment (which the New York Times also opposes, by the way, but that's another rant).

I therefore applaud the excess of the oil sheikhs, and regret only that nobody thought to sell them securities backed by subprime mortgages.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Nov 14, 01:56:00 PM:

While we are on the subject of outlandish private jets, did anyone notice this story on the Google guys "party jet"?

it turns out that Google's two founders and it's CEO, through a series of intermediate holding companies, have succeeded in closing a deal with NASA to use Moffett Field. All the other private jet users in the valley had been frustrated by the little matter of two election results denying NASA the ability to do this exact thing. Not Google, though. How did they get it? Bribes, of course. They gave NASA and SETI scientists the right to fly on their planes (ostensibly for "Climate Change" studies-- how rich is that?!) in return for parking priveledges for three Google planes, including the disgusting 767 the founders own.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Nov 14, 04:02:00 PM:

This comment has been removed by the author.  

By Blogger D.E. Cloutier, at Wed Nov 14, 04:04:00 PM:

"...produce virtually nothing worth buying other than oil and gas..."

I guess you don't own any Persian carpets.

You make this point periodically, TH. Sometime I would like to see a post from you on the five things you admire about Islamic cultures.

I could do it. (I won't; it's not my blog.) Regular commenter GreenmanTim probably could do it. Hawk and regular commenter Dawnfire82 probably could do it. Can you come up with five things?  

By Blogger Frederick, at Wed Nov 14, 06:14:00 PM:

...and besides, the sooner we hit peek oil and the whole house of cards tumbles, the better. An SUVs in every pot!  

By Blogger Ray, at Wed Nov 14, 10:42:00 PM:

Nice sentiment at the end there :)  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 16, 01:31:00 AM:

And AL GORE got 6 and john edwards got 7 and JOHN TRAVOLTA wants at least 10  

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