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I must echo Mark Perry on this (check out his latest post for lots of juicy details), since it represents a big positive change on the margin that supports the outlook for the U.S. economy.

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U.S. crude oil production is up 22% in the past year, and has risen by an astounding 34% in the past four years. This is more than a recovery from recession -- this is effectively a whole new industry that is being built on the back of new drilling technologies.

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Along with the rise in crude oil production that started in 2008 has come a virtual gusher of natural gas, which in turn has resulted in a huge decline in natural gas prices. As the chart above shows, from their peak in 2008, natural gas prices have fallen almost 75%. Crude oil is largely fungible and thus determined by global market forces, so its price hasn't fallen much. But natural gas is not easily fungible on a global scale (it has to be compressed and shipped), so U.S. gas prices have fallen significantly.

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As this next chart shows, natural gas has now become extremely cheap relative to oil. This has given U.S. manufacturers that use large amounts of energy a significant natural advantage relative to those of other countries, not to mention giving consumers in many areas of the country a big break on their heating bills. These are transformative changes in the U.S. economy that are extremely positive for the future.

Source: U.S. Production Of Crude Oil Surges