The December 16 Issue of Bloomberg Businessweek has an article about a shortage of ships to haul oil between US ports. (The oil moves from ports near where it is produced to ports near where it is refined.) The shortage in ships is due to a 1920 law that requires ships moving between US ports to be built in the US and staffed by US sailors. This odd law makes it more expensive to move ships between US ports than it is to ship oil between US ports and Canada. This law results in a giant gas tax on the US driver.
This is another great example of how geography (in this case political geography) matters.
The article indicates that the Innovation Act will shift the costs of litigation to the loser and will force the patent holder to disclose how the company being sued is infringing on their patent, something that isn’t now required.
It sounds like this is a step in the right direction. It is too bad that Congress didn’t get this job done the first time.
The November 23, 2013 Issue of the Economist Magazine has an article that explains why fracking for oil and gas has been so successful in America, and why this success may not be easy to duplicate in other countries. The article states: “It is a very American success. Geologists have long known that these reserves existed, but they could not get at them. A combination of innovation, finance, and enterprise have now opened them up, often to small oil and gas firms with low costs. America’s property laws, which grant mineral rights to the land owner, have people clamoring to get their land explored. Countries with less flexible capital markets, different laws and less enterprising oilmen will make a lot less of their shale oil and gas.”
This is another example that geography matters. We can’t always expect a technology to simply be transplanted to another part of the world with the same results.
This renewed productivity in oil and gas is creating a conflict between tourism businesses and those that profit from hydrocarbon extraction in Eastern Utah. The article explains that a coalition of Utah tourism businesses and environmental groups recently influenced the BLM to reconsider some oil and gas leases on public land in the state.
This is an interesting example of the intersection between technology, geography, economics and land use issues. It is another case proving that geography matters.
What is driving this move by big retailers to use their network of stores as shipping centers? It’s mainly competition from online retailer Amazon. The article quotes Jeff Starecheski, who explains the strategy: “If you want to go head to head with Amazon, you go out and build a bunch of distribution centers…We’re already close to customers.”
This is a great example of how geography really matters…and how it pays to be geographically near your customers.