The Rosett Report

Gee, Thanks, OPEC

If there’s been any upside to the global financial crisis, it’s that oil prices have plummeted more than 40% from their high in July. Crude fell this week to below $87 per barrel, down from more than $147. We may all be wondering if we’re about to spend years dining on cabbage and beans, but at least gas prices have been falling at the pump.

For most folks, that’s good news — cheaper oil lowers all sorts of costs. That frees up resources for something more productive than paying oil-rich countries to become vastly richer, and in the cases of assorted oil-swollen tyrannies, more dangerous to America’s democratic way of life.

But OPEC doesn’t see it that way. Currently expressing kindly concern for a world in trouble, OPEC leaders have scheduled a special meeting next month at which the aim seems likely to be a production cut, to try to keep oil prices up. By OPEC’s lights, this constitutes addressing “deteriorating economic conditions” in order to keep markets stable. According to Nigerian Energy Minister Odein Ajumogobia, as reported by Bloomberg, ‘OPEC may need to ‘intervene’ to ‘balance the fundamentals of the market.’ ” 

Funny, but when oil prices were soaring earlier this year, hitting the tripwires for the current crisis, OPEC — whose top five oil producers are Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Venezuela — didn’t seem nearly as concerned about keeping the oil prices steady. Now they want to help. Gee, thanks, OPEC.