Like Cheap(er) Gas? OPEC Doesn't.
I’ll bet most folks are happy about their $2.99 gas. They might even like it enough that they forget that back in 2000 it was only $1.00 a gallon. Despite my continuing belief that the price of a gallon of regular in the U.S. is going to shake out between $5 and $10 in the next five years, the world of analysts and short-term economists seem to be of the mindset that lower fuel prices are at least semi-permanent. And that makes OPEC very nervous. Lower demand makes lower prices, that makes lower profits, and the result of that is fewer shiny exotic cars. The New York Times reports today that OPEC is working on strategies to put their monopolistic cartel to work for the good of the world their profits. While they would like to cut production levels, the problem (and this is always the problem with cartels) is the risk of cheating. If everyone else cuts production and prices go up, an individual member has an incentive to produce and sell more. Considering that many of the OPEC member states (and oil producing non-member states like Russia) depend on oil to balance their budgets, it’s hammer time for oil countries. Or, as the terrorist nation Iran’s oil minister said, “The era of cheap oil is finished.”