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No Joke! 'Federal Helium Reserve' Wreaks Havoc in Market

N P R : Back in the 1920s, the U.S. government thought blimps might be the next big thing in warfare. So the government started producing helium. And they created the Federal Helium Reserve, a vast store of helium that sits underground in the Texas panhandle.

The great blimp war never came to pass, but the reserve persisted. Now, the government is in the process of selling off the most of that helium and winding down the reserve. Weirdly, selling off all that helium has actually led to a big rise in the price of the gas.

This is a bigger deal than it might seem. Besides playing an essential role at birthday parties, helium is used to make cell phones, computers, plasma TVs — anything with a chip.

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Jefferson's picture


topic helium factoid:

My dad is a structural engineer in Amarillo. When they discovered helium, they built a giant 6 story time capsule monument that they eventually decided they wanted to airlift by helicopter closer in town so more people could visit it. My dad designed the rigging that allowed this thing to be airlifted complete with a net to catch one of its "testicles" (actually a model of the helium molecules) if it happened to fall off in flight. We got a big kick (no pun intended) out of the testicles joke when we were kids.

This was a really BIG deal at the time, other than the "eat a 72oz steak in one hour and get it free" at the Big Texan Steak House attraction.

I know your lives are now much more enriched by knowing this. You can thank me later...;)

Hope all is well Michael.

How does increasing available supply drive the price


Something else is at play here.

It's not

The government has been selling the helium forever, what's increase the price is the prospect that a large supplier (the government) is closing up shop.

Other providers haven't finished building the facilities necessary to extract and process yet, but they should before 2015. People who are expecting a price increase often buy, thus raising the price prematurely.

Eric Hoffer

Got it. Thanks. I wasn't familiar with the situation and

the article wasn't really explaining it well.

Talk about inflation!

Ba-dum- cha!

Senator Peter Schiff 2016



The above article speaks to the problem quite a bit more in depth, if you want further reading. The Fed gov is actually moving OUT of the Helium business and is supposed to be done with the reserve by 2015.

Eric Hoffer