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Ask Jeff Rubin Add to ...

Jeff Rubin, former chief economist at CIBC World Markets Inc., took your questions at Wednesday at 12:15 p.m.

Mr. Rubin built his reputation on a number of successful predictions, including one in 2000 that oil prices would hit $50 (U.S.) a barrel within five years and correctly calling the residential real estate market bust in the early 1990s. He was named Canada's top economist a number of times.

Mr. Rubin recently forecast that the price of oil will reach $225 a barrel by 2012, and his book, called Why Your World Is About to Get a Whole Lot Smaller, is about how oil scarcity will lead to the end of globalization.

"It's a book about the way the world is about to change. We've all got our eyes right now on the global financial meltdown, but I believe that oil scarcity will change the global economy even more profoundly and, in the process, change all of our lives - from where we work to where we live to what we eat," Mr. Rubin says.

Join our live, online discussion on these ideas. Get a head start by submitting your question here. Your questions and Mr. Rubin's answers will appear in the space below.

Editor's Note : globeandmail.com editors will read and allow or reject each question/comment. Comments/questions may be edited for length or clarity. HTML is not allowed. We will not publish questions/comments that include personal attacks on participants in these discussions, that make false or unsubstantiated allegations, that purport to quote people or reports where the purported quote or fact cannot be easily verified, or questions/comments that include vulgar language or libellous statements. Preference will be given to readers who submit questions/comments using their full name and home town, rather than a pseudonym.

Sonali Verma : Thank you for joining us. We have a lot of questions, so let's get started.

Jeff, quite a few readers have questions on how public policy -- and private citizens -- may need to change:

William Trick writes: Do you have confidence that the present form of government in Canada (or the USA) has the capability of dealing with the the long term and most profound social adjustments and economic changes our country will face in the next decade or so… I don't.

Richard Christensen writes: If we will be faced with $200.00 a barrel oil by 2012 or sooner what should individuals in Canada be doing, at this time, in order to prepare for this radical change in the cost of oil? Also, what should the federal government be doing that it is not already doing?

Jeremy Dietz writes: I have yet to read your book, but was wondering how you see U.S. imposed environmental legislation affecting the Alberta Oil Sands? Will this have any negative effect on an industry that accounts for only 5% of Canada's GHGs?

Jonathan Houle writes: As an engineer, I tend to see problems as opportunities for things to change and improve. In your opinion, who will most profit and benefit from the way in which fossil fuel scarcity will drastically change the way we live? Do you think we (the Western society) will be able to adapt quickly enough or even take the pre-emptive (hard) steps needed to avert such a hard shock on our way of life? Or we will have to rely mostly on government policy to steer us through this problem?

Jeff Rubin: I believe that the oil sand producers will ultimately have to pay for the carbon emissions they emit. At the same time, the Canadian oil sands is America's future oil supply so that the economic impact on the oilsands for paying for their carbon will be minimal. In other words, when the price ofa barrel of oil is $150, no one is going to worry about the additional $5 that people will have to pay for the carbon cost.

I believe there will be many winners from triple digit oil prices, particularly manufacturers and farmers. We won't be able to source food and manufactured goods from China when it costs so much to ship goods across oceans.

D.A. Kozak writes: Canadians on the retail side pay hefty premiums to fill up their gas tanks by about 30% more than the Americans; we pay three times more than the Americans for cell phone service; and we pay 30% more for new cars and 75% more for used cars than Americans. Does any of these Canadian premiums make it into the decisions whether to do new business in Canada?

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