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In normal times, the global economy hums on oil. But as more and more countries issue shelter-in-place orders in response to the novel coronavirus, the demand for oil is plummeting and with it, the hope that prices will rebound anytime soon. At first, OPEC and other major petroleum producers sought to put a floor under falling prices by slashing production, but they failed to reach an agreement. To the contrary, Russia and Saudi Arabia have been waging a price war since early March, each seeking to expand its market share at the expense of countries with higher production costs. By March 30, the price of Brent crude—the international benchmark product—had fallen to an 18-year low of less than $23 a barrel.

U.S. President Donald Trump has called the oil price war “crazy,” and his administration has sought to convince Russia and Saudi Arabia—through bilateral diplomacy, as well as

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