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Without Oil, We'd Be Greece

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When you run a Greek fiscal policy, you're usually going to get Greek results.

Unless you're the United States, which is blesssed with oil and natural gas, a gift that keeps on giving.

Despite an austere fiscal policy that has cut our annual deficit 45% since the last Bush budget, according to U.S. Government Spending, the U.S. economy has been growing, awash in a sea of oil.

The Department of Energy estimates U.S. oil production rose 21% from 2009-2012, to 2.374 billion barrels. At about $100/barrel, that's $234 billion. Add in natural gas and we're the number one producer again, ahead of both Russia and Saudi Arabia, with the equivalent of 25 million barrels per day expected this year.

Not all that production is getting its price. The "spread" between U.S. and global oil prices, which seemed about to disappear a month ago, is back up to $7/barrel.

The price of natural gas tried to push through $4/mcf early this year, but is now back at $3.50. Compare that with the $11.61/mcf being paid in Europe and you have a huge economic tailwind.

How big is the tailwind? The Energy Department estimates about half of U.S. energy production right now is oil, so that's $12 billion/day being spent here and not being spent elsewhere, a $24 billion/day reversal on our balance of trade. In Texas and North Dakota, they're partying like it's 1979.

Because energy prices remain high, however, we also have a huge incentive to use it wisely. The U.S. economy is less energy-efficient than any of our rivals. You can moan about that, or understand that it means we have more of the cheapest form of renewable energy, efficiency, to exploit than any economic rival.

Efficiency drives sales of cars and trucks, it drives sales of heating systems and refrigerators, and it drives sales of industrial equipment. While the 1970s oil boom was great for Texas but bad for Michigan, this one is also great for Michigan, where Ford (F) is up 31% and General Motors (GM) is up over 21% just this year.

That's nothing like the gain in Tesla Motors (TSLA), which makes electric cars. But while I believe Tesla is in bubble territory, its success shows that there is enormous economic power in replacing gasoline with electricity.
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