ECN437 Hotelling's Theorem During the last two centuries there have been many periods of wide public concern that the economy was about to collapse because some critical natural resource was about to be exhausted. Some of the resources people worried about seem almost funny today: whale oil (used as a lighting fuel before the Civil War), timber, iron and coal (now known to be very, very abundant). More recently, the focus has been on oil. Since the early twentieth century, people have been worried that the world was using up its supply of oil much too fast. In the 1920's, for example, the chief geologist of the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that U.S. oil reserves would be exhausted by 1934. In a famous paper called "The Economics of Exhaustible Resources", Harold Hotelling pointed out that deposits of exhaustible resources are an asset,
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U.S. Geological Survey, exhaustible resources, percentage growth rate, U.S. oil reserves, remote access web, JSTOR archive.