Varun Sivaram

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Oil Markets and the Stanley Cup

by Michael Levi
June 15, 2011

Over at The Water’s Edge, my friend and colleague Jim Lindsay explains what the Stanley Cup finals tell us about globalization. This blog’s job is to provide its readers with essential insights into what energy tells us about who will win game seven tonight.

I want to start, though, with a piece of advice: If you watch the NBC broadcast tonight, take a look when they show shots of the natural beauty outside Rogers Arena in Vancouver. I’m constantly reading about how, if the Keystone XL pipeline is rejected, Albertan bitumen will simply be exported to China. I’m not so sure. Oil exports need to leave through the B.C. coast, and the environmental movement is pretty strong there. Even if first nations land issues that threaten to derail the Northern Gateway pipeline can be settled, British Columbians will need to say yes to more oil tankers traveling through their waters. I’m not sure they will: they do not benefit from oil sands development in the same way that their Albertan neighbors do.

Back to predictions: The Globe and Mail passes along a report from Montreal-based Phases & Cycles, which concludes that Canadian hockey teams fare better during commodity price booms. The theory is simple: commodity booms lift the Canadian dollar against the U.S. dollar. That has historically given Canadian teams more leverage in attracting star talent.

As someone who writes about political economy more than pure economics, I’m probably obligated to point out that the report misses an important institutional change: the salary cap, which was imposed as part of the resolution to the 2004-5 lockout. And as someone who likes to complain about the abuse of statistics, I should probably raise a red flag about the Edmonton Oilers’ dominance in the 1980s, which wasn’t exactly a golden age for oil.

But I’m going to pretend that none of this matters, because I like what the commodity cycle analysis tells us about tonight’s game. Go Canucks!

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