NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- We know just how bad low oil prices are for Russia. Its economy didn't wait to implode as oil prices dropped. The ruble has cratered, the Bank of Russia is spending its dollars and people are buying iPads just to get rid of their currency. So much of the Russian economy is tethered to the price of oil and everyone seems to agree:
Russia, we know, is nothing more than a glorified petro state.
What we're less willing to admit is how much the U.S. has become just like Russia. We like to think of the U.S. as a consumer economy and we like to think that the drop in oil prices is positively and without doubt a great boon to our consumer economy. Hasn't every economist and incumbent politician crowed about the $700 per family "tax rebate" of low oil prices?
Only, it's not nearly so clear cut. The U.S. has become the third-largest producer of crude oil in the world, with a monumental daily production of 9.2 million barrels a day. This is an increase of more than four million barrels a day in the last five years alone and only a stone's throw from Saudi Arabia's leading 10.1 million barrels a day.
In that increase over the past several years, there's more than oil that's been produced. There've been jobs and homes and machinery and pipelines. Much of the great GDP growth we've seen since 2010 has been due to the fantastic rise of the oil and gas industry and their presence in shale.