The Return Of Resource Nationalism

The U.S. Geological Survey reports world production of rare earths in 1994 as 64,500 metric tons. In 2017 production reached a little more than twice that number at 132,000 metric tons. But production has started to accelerate abruptly in response to increasing demand, jumping to 190,000 metric tons in 2018 and 210,000 metric tons in 2019.

Our consumption of many critical resources is accelerating at similar rates. Such growth cannot go on forever. I am reminded of economist Herbert Stein's truism that if something cannot go on forever, it will stop.

The trouble is, we don't know where the stopping point is for production growth of most of the resources we need. And, we are doing precious little to prepare for that day.

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Kurt Cobb is an author, speaker, and columnist focusing on energy and the environment. He is a regular ...

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Gary Anderson 3 months ago Contributor's comment

Very interesting. But China reacted to American tariffs. We used to be for free trade, remember?

Texan Hunter 3 months ago Member's comment

Yes, but that's because there was a trade imbalance that needed to be corrected.

Gary Anderson 3 months ago Contributor's comment

If you read the most recent Mises article at Talkmarkets, you will see that a trade imbalance does not need to be corrected. I am not a Libertarian, but they are right about trade.