Yesterday I posted a graph of US oil efficiency over time, and suggested the results were mildly encouraging:
Americans do seem to be slowly getting the message. With sustained high prices, when there is at least modest economic growth, people focus on making their operations use oil more efficiently, and the results are showing up in the national statistics.However, several commenters argued that the results were an artifact of increasing "financialization" of the US economy. Presumably the idea is that financial services involves a lot of creation of measured value but little oil consumption.
This idea is not well supported by the data. The graph above shows yesterday's data for oil efficiency on the right axis along with the fraction of GDP due to financial services and insurance (right axis - data from BEA). While it is true that financial servies has grown from a little under 3% of the economy to 6% by the year 2000, this is nowhere near enough to account for the more than doubling of the oil efficiency of the entire economy over the same period - clearly the other 95% or so of the economy must have got a lot more oil efficient also. It's also notable that the pattern is quite different - financial services as a fraction of the economy peaked in 2000 and has been slowly and fitfully declining since then, so it seems very unlikely to have much to do with the sharp accelerations of oil efficiency in 2007-2008 or 2010-2011.