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Essay, Jul/Aug 2011
Robert McNally and Michael Levi

Saudi Arabia and other OPEC members have long maintained large oil reserves to limit volatility in oil prices. But with key states now refusing to maintain such expensive buffers, the world must learn how to cope with big price swings in the years ahead.

Essay, Mar/Apr 2010
Christof Rühl

The economic crisis did not alter the deep structural changes already in global energy markets -- rising energy demand in the developing world and growing concerns about carbon emissions -- and it revealed how the oil, coal, and natural gas markets could help address the major energy challenges ahead.

Essay, Spring 1982
Jahangir Amuzegar

For nearly a decade now, the spotlighted fortunes of some oil-exporting countries have been a focus of global interest. Raw materials exporters among the less-developed countries have dreamed of being able one day to establish a producers' association similar to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). The industrial powers have helplessly watched their political clout and economic affluence dwindle before the kingdom of oil. The capital-short and aspiring Third World planners have kept telling themselves (and each other) that if only they had this black gold, the magical élan vital for their economic takeoff would be close at hand.

Essay, Summer 1981
Walter J. Levy

A year ago, in reviewing the problems of oil supplies and Western security, I focused on the deplorable developments that had occurred during 1979, and emphasized the grave dangers involved if most of the oil-consuming nations remained dependent on oil from the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and were unable to achieve effective international coordination of their energy policies. It now appears appropriate to examine how circumstances have changed--or remained unchanged--during the intervening year, and to suggest lines of action, for both the short and medium term, that should be pursued vigorously.

Essay, Special 1980
George W. Ball

This year was in all respects a very heavy time," wrote the authors of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in 1097, and we can appropriately use the same phrase to describe 1980. To be sure our country was not engaged in war; the Danes did not raid our coast; America was still rich by world standards; and the harvest was adequate. But a doleful chorus of lamentation was heard not only in our land but throughout the non-communist nations. It had a persistent recurring theme. At a time when the Soviet Union was systematically extending its military reach, the United States was falling into apathy and incompetence. No longer did we Americans seem willing and able to assure the security of our friends and allies. No longer did we display the mastery of events that had given confidence in our economic, political and military leadership.

Essay, Summer 1980
Walter J. Levy

The year 1979 was one of grievous setbacks for the future security of the oil supply of the Western world, its economic and financial prospects, its strategic capabilities, and its political stability.

Essay, Special 1979
Robert Stobaugh and Daniel Yergin

Consider the plight of some distinguished oil expert, a modern-day Rip Van Winkle who had been lulled in the summer of 1978 into a long nap by the then widespread predictions for the 1980s--ample oil supplies at constant or even declining real prices. By the beginning of 1980 he would have awakened to a thoroughly disorienting situation. He would have thought that the year was 2000, for 20 years of anticipated change had been telescoped into one. From $12-13 per barrel in late 1978, oil prices had risen to the $30-35 range, a level that many 1978 predictions had not anticipated until the year 2000. And political threats to the world's oil supply that had been discussed as potentially serious five to ten years in the future had become visibly critical in 1979 alone. It was a fateful 18 months.

Essay, Winter 1979
Denis Healey

For about a quarter of a century after the end of the Second World War, the market economies of the non-communist world enjoyed an unprecedented rate of growth, an exceptionally low level of unemployment, and comparatively low inflation. The average growth of the gross national product (GNP) in the advanced industrial nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) from 1951 to 1973 was 4.8 percent a year in real terms. It was not until 1975 that output actually fell in the noncommunist world as a whole--and then by only one percent--whereas before the war there were periods when it fell very dramatically by from five to seven percent. Since 1975, growth has been averaging less than it did from 1951 to 1973--about 3.8 as against 4.8 percent--but there are ominous signs that it may settle down over the next decade to an average significantly lower than the current rate. Moreover, all the evidence is that, in the foreseeable future, the average growth of output in the free world is not going to recover to the level we experienced during those golden years from 1951 to 1973.

Essay, Spring 1979
Robert Stobaugh and Daniel Yergin

Almost exactly five years after the first oil shock, the second began. The parts of the puzzle are arranged quite differently this time around, but the two central pieces are the same. The upheaval in Iran has meant an interruption of supply and a loss to world production already as great as that from the 1973 embargo; the tight world oil market which had been predicted, just last fall, only for the mid-1980s or beyond is already upon us. And, as a direct result, the OPEC countries-which in December 1978 had already announced a substantial price rise during 1979-are further increasing prices.

Essay, Winter 1978
Walter J. Levy

For the last five years the world has been trying to cope with a set of problems triggered by the sudden oil price explosion of late 1973: the availability of oil to cover future energy demand, the economic and financial upheaval attending the jump in oil prices, and the utilization of a flood of petrodollars by OPEC countries for their national development and other purposes. These three issues are intimately interrelated and interact on each other; they can thus be properly assessed only in conjunction with each other.

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