Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
AI Tech Stocks State Going into the CRASH and Capitalising on the Metaverse - 25th Jan 22
Stock Market Relief Rally, Maybe? - 25th Jan 22
Why Gold’s Latest Rally Is Nothing to Get Excited About - 25th Jan 22
Gold Slides and Rebounds in 2022 - 25th Jan 22
Gold; a stellar picture - 25th Jan 22
CATHY WOOD ARK GARBAGE ARK Funds Heading for 90% STOCK CRASH! - 22nd Jan 22
Gold Is the Belle of the Ball. Will Its Dance Turn Bearish? - 22nd Jan 22
Best Neighborhoods to Buy Real Estate in San Diego - 22nd Jan 22
Stock Market January PANIC AI Tech Stocks Buying Opp - Trend Forecast 2022 - 21st Jan 21
How to Get Rich in the MetaVerse - 20th Jan 21
Should you Buy Payment Disruptor Stocks in 2022? - 20th Jan 21
2022 the Year of Smart devices, Electric Vehicles, and AI Startups - 20th Jan 21
Oil Markets More Animated by Geopolitics, Supply, and Demand - 20th Jan 21
WARNING - AI STOCK MARKET CRASH / BEAR SWITCH TRIGGERED! - 19th Jan 22
Fake It Till You Make It: Will Silver’s Motto Work on Gold? - 19th Jan 22
Crude Oil Smashing Stocks - 19th Jan 22
US Stagflation: The Global Risk of 2022 - 19th Jan 22
Stock Market Trend Forecast Early 2022 - Tech Growth Value Stocks Rotation - 18th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Setting Up For A 'Mini-Crash'? - 18th Jan 22
Mobile Sports Betting is on a rise: Here’s why - 18th Jan 22
Exponential AI Stocks Mega-trend - 17th Jan 22
THE NEXT BITCOIN - 17th Jan 22
Gold Price Predictions for 2022 - 17th Jan 22
How Do Debt Relief Services Work To Reduce The Amount You Owe? - 17th Jan 22
RIVIAN IPO Illustrates We are in the Mother of all Stock Market Bubbles - 16th Jan 22
All Market Eyes on Copper - 16th Jan 22
The US Dollar Had a Slip-Up, but Gold Turned a Blind Eye to It - 16th Jan 22
A Stock Market Top for the Ages - 16th Jan 22
FREETRADE - Stock Investing Platform, the Good, Bad and Ugly Review, Free Shares, Cancelled Orders - 15th Jan 22
WD 14tb My Book External Drive Unboxing, Testing and Benchmark Performance Amazon Buy Review - 15th Jan 22
Toyland Ferris Wheel Birthday Fun at Gulliver's Rother Valley UK Theme Park 2022 - 15th Jan 22
What You Should Know About a TailoredPay High Risk Merchant Account - 15th Jan 22
Best Metaverse Tech Stocks Investing for 2022 and Beyond - 14th Jan 22
Gold Price Lagging Inflation - 14th Jan 22
Get Your Startup Idea Up And Running With These 7 Tips - 14th Jan 22
What Happens When Your Flight Gets Cancelled in the UK? - 14th Jan 22

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

Fuel Subsidies In Mexico Stimulate Black Market Activity In The US

Commodities / Crude Oil Jun 27, 2008 - 10:16 AM GMT

By: Joseph_Brusuelas

Commodities Along the frontier between Southern California and Baja California it has always been a tradition for consumers to engage in a bit of arbitrage due to the temporary differences in prices for basic goods. Normally, this has been confined to non-durables and foodstuffs. But, beyond Mexican “cerveza” and other spirits, the changing price of oil has jump-started black market activity north of the border.


While an open secret in California, this activity became national news due to a recent Wall Street Journal article titled “Fill'er Up: Gas Is Cheap In Tijuana, So Californians Buy Big Fuel Tanks.” South of the border, where the Mexican government subsidizes the cost of fuel, the price environment for consumers is quite different. Gasoline costs $2.50 per gallon and the cost of diesel is less at $2.19. What is occurring is more than a temporary way for industrious residents of the border to profit from price differentials. It is a prime example of how government subsidies distort the efficient allocation of goods and services and can lead to a change in consumer behavior.

To the point, due to the near $5.0 per gallon price of gasoline throughout much of California, consumers have incentive to cross the border and purchase gasoline. While, on an individual such activity is no problem and due to the open border an eminently rational endeavor. Yet, if the pricing differentials persist long enough, behavior on the both sides of the border will change.

And that is exactly what has occurred. Residents in San Diego County, California are now doing much more than filling up their tanks. According to the aforementioned article, they are crossing the border with extra-large fuel tanks and returning home with profits in mind. Based on basic price differential, if an individual crosses the border and fills up a 100-gallon tank and returns home, he is in line for a tidy profit. At the subsidized price in Mexico filling up the tank would cost $250.00 dollar as opposed to $475.00 in the US based on an estimate of $4.75 per gallon. If that individual comes home and sells that tank of gas to his neighbors at $4.50 per gallon, he is in line to make a $200.00 profit for just a few hours work. Not bad.

Besides the utter irony of Americans crossing the border to Mexico to find economic opportunity, the real human behavior along the border is instructive regarding the basic economics of pricing. The behavior of US consumers and entrepreneurs is causing supply problems in Baja, California. Supplies of diesel are short and the lack of refinery capacity in Baja has, if you can believe this, Mexico importing refined gasoline from the US!

This state of affairs cannot last for two reasons. First, what economists refer to as “the law of one price,” ensures that in an efficient market all identical goods must have one price. Roughly translated, this means that after a short period of time efficiencies in the market dictate that opportunities to profit will come to a close.

Along the national frontier, the idea of efficient markets does not always hold. Yet, the distortion caused by the fuel subsidies for Mexican consumers cannot last. The logic of efficient markets will cause a change in the structural policies behind the change in individual behavior. Like many other emerging markets, Mexico will soon recognize the folly of its ways and understand that they are not only subsidizing the price of gasoline for their own citizens, but that of rich Americans. Moreover, the longer the price distortions continue to persist, the greater the cost for not only the government of Mexico, but for the citizens of the republic south of the border. In effect, the shortage of diesel and refined gasoline will continue to grow and the state will recognize that paying to import gasoline from the US and the subsidizing the consumption of it by US residents is a losing proposition.

Once that occurs, the current black market of cheap subsidized gasoline in the border region of Southern California will come to an end. But in the meantime, head down to the Ensenada, enjoy the warm summer nights and cold beer. And on the way back, fill up for the week. You will save a few bucks, and remember a time when the inefficient policies of a government actually worked to your favor.

By Joseph Brusuelas
Chief Economist, VP Global Strategy of the Merk Hard Currency Fund

Bridging academic rigor and communications, Joe Brusuelas provides the Merk team with significant experience in advanced research and analysis of macro-economic factors, as well as in identifying how economic trends impact investors.  As Chief Economist and Global Strategist, he is responsible for heading Merk research and analysis and communicating the Merk Perspective to the markets.

Mr. Brusuelas holds an M.A and a B.A. in Political Science from San Diego State and is a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Before joining Merk, Mr. Brusuelas was the chief US Economist at IDEAglobal in New York.  Before that he spent 8 years in academia as a researcher and lecturer covering themes spanning macro- and microeconomics, money, banking and financial markets.  In addition, he has worked at Citibank/Salomon Smith Barney, First Fidelity Bank and Great Western Investment Management.

© 2008 Merk Investments® LLC
The Merk Hard Currency Fund is managed by Merk Investments, an investment advisory firm that invests with discipline and long-term focus while adapting to changing environments.
Axel Merk, president of Merk Investments, makes all investment decisions for the Merk Hard Currency Fund. Mr. Merk founded Merk Investments AG in Switzerland in 1994; in 2001, he relocated the business to the US where all investment advisory activities are conducted by Merk Investments LLC, a SEC-registered investment adviser.

Merk Investments has since pursued a macro-economic approach to investing, with substantial gold and hard currency exposure.

Merk Investments is making the Merk Hard Currency Fund available to retail investors to allow them to diversify their portfolios and, through the fund, invest in a basket of hard currencies.

Joseph Brusuelas Archive

© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in