View the full cat chart at Wikinvest

Cat Stock Blog

Caterpillar Inc. (NYSE:CAT) stock news and links


Bolivia’s lithium bonanza

The New York Times has a story that must have mining companies’ mouths watering: the world’s largest reserves of lithium — a key ingredient in batteries that could power hybrid cars — lie beneath a salt flat in a remote corner of Bolivia, whose current president is Evo Morales, a leftist pal of Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, who is bound and determined to make sure Bolivians are the primary beneficiaries of all this metal. I was counting the paragraphs till somebody denounced evil imperialists, and I wasn’t disappointed:

“The previous imperialist model of exploitation of our natural resources will never be repeated in Bolivia,” said Saúl Villegas, head of evaporates, a division in Comibol that oversees lithium extraction. “Maybe there could be the possibility of foreigners accepted as minority partners, or better yet, as our clients.”

Uh, Saúl, no matter what you do, if you mine the lithium, you’re going to have to sell it to somebody else. The lesson of history is that attempting to gore the capitalist pig just encourages said pig to feed at somebody else’s trough.

The story summarizes all the issues at stake between economically poor countries that are resource rich and would like to become economically prosperous without having to cut deals that let somebody else rake in all the profits. Could Bolivia become a model for building an industry that makes the nation and its people wealthier? Perhaps, but the fact that people making empty denunciations of imperialism are running things makes me skeptical.

(Nice thing from Caterpillar’s perspective: no matter who does the digging, they’re gonna need shovels).

no comments | Permalink | Tags:
Tom Mangan posted at 11:16 am February 2nd, 2009 |

Leave a Reply