Most Americans just don't get how lucky they are, and in every way. Here's one example: world oil prices. Americans' consumption of total global crude oil output--some 25% of daily world demand--means their conservation or excess use can make a real impact on global oil prices--no matter the demand of China and other countries (still). If Americans reduce consumption just 5%, that is meaningful to global demand; if French consumers reduce consumption 5%, it's a yawn. Score: Minus one for U.S. consumers. And, there is yet another means of how Americans affecting global oil prices--the value of the U.S. dollar. The supply/demand issue has been lost on U.S. consumers. Will they "get" this one? World crude oil is still traded with the value of the U.S. dollar in the equation. This was painful for Americans earlier this year, when the dollar was weak and crude oil on Nymex jumped to some US$140. But the dollar has strengthened--and in the midst of U.S. financial-services turmoil--and world oil prices have fallen precipitously. I blogged earlier this year about the new US$5 bill, and how it could double at the time as a $2.50 in Europe. The rate against the Euro was 2-to-1 then (favoring the Euro). The current rate is US$1=Euro$1.26. Falling global crude oil prices are largely a function of the improved strength of the U.S. dollar. Many energy-industry think-tank experts talk of supply/demand fundamentals, such as that of China, etc.--as contributing to the decline in global oil prices. But they won't acknowleged the simply currency difference between that of today and six months ago. That would be too simple. Just far too obvious. Meanwhile, Americans should wonder if what the U.S. is really up to with its TARP and other seemingly Darwinistic responses to the local financial crisis, is to push out other oil-consuming countries and be No. 1 again in terms of to whom Saudi Arabia and the rest answer. The U.S. did it before: In the 1980s, President Reagan made U.S. oil trading open to the public, resulting in a push-down on the new, markets-based price and snapping Russia's cash-flow pipeline, making Russia cede the whole Cold War game.

–Nissa Darbonne, Executive Editor, Oil and Gas Investor, A&D Watch, Today,,;