How the New Energy Boom Helps Manufacturing

It’s no secret that I’m a big believer in refiners. If there’s one force at hand that’s powering the American recovery, it’s the boom in U.S. oil and energy production brought about by oil fracking technologies. After all, fracking allows oil drillers to tap into America’s vast oil shale reserves.

The result is putting the U.S. on the path to not only energy independence, but also economic independence, as experts estimate that this new boom will create more than 3 million jobs in the next seven years and will generate $2.5 trillion in tax revenues.

Over the past five years as the fracking revolution has taken hold, the United States has become a global leader in crude production and oil production capacity growth — adding 1.2 billion barrels per day in production growth — and the world’s largest natural gas producer as well, at 65 billion cubic feet per day. The result has pushed down the price of natural gas to the lowest it has been in 10 years—from $15 a cubic foot in 2005 to less than $3 a cubic foot today. And that’s just in the short term.

The New Energy Boom

Even more striking is that this isn’t a low-cost energy bonanza just for oil and gas businesses, but for all U.S. consumers as well, because half of all U.S. households spend 21% of their after-tax income on energy. So it’s no surprise that the top-performing stock sector of 2012 was in consumer discretionary spending, as lower energy costs simply put more money in consumers’ pockets.

This is why our top retailers, manufacturers, and oil and gas investments have risen as much as 200% over the past three years and why their profits will continue to grow. And it’s all because the combination of falling heating and electric costs and lower interest rates is giving families more discretionary income to spend on “the fun stuff.”

This ripple effect extends to builders and workers in the housing and building trades, for producers of home appliances, and for retailers, as Americans spend their newfound wealth on the things that they have been denying themselves for the past five years. On top of this, the energy boom also creates more American jobs as the U.S. simply becomes a cheaper place to manufacture goods.

The chart below tells the whole story.

graph: Cheap Fuel - Natural gas prices vary widely (dollars per million BTUs for liquid gas, January 2013.)

It is precisely this low cost of fuel that’s driving more and more companies to bring their manufacturing facilities back to the U.S.

  • This is why Apple (AAPL) is investing $100 million in 2013 to resume building Mac computers in the U.S.—a task the company offshored to China in the late 1990s.
  • This is why General Electric (GE) is planning to open 15 new U.S. manufacturing plants in the next few years.
  • This is also why Ford (F) is bringing 12,000 more jobs back to the U.S., investing $6.2 billion in its Flat Rock, Michigan, plant alone to do so.
  • This is also why, after six years of using contractors in China, Whirlpool (WHR) is restoring U.S. jobs as well.

And all this can be traced back to the low cost of energy to produce these goods.

When you add everything up—the increase in the money supply, the zero-interest-rate environment, the low natural gas prices—you can see why it’s only a matter of time before the economy hits the gas as employment, housing, and wages increase.

Article printed from InvestorPlace Media,

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