Russian romancing, Saudi intrigue precede OPEC meeting

Those with long memories probably can recall when meetings of the OPEC oil exporters cartel were major news events, on one occasion horrendously inflated by the terrorist Carlos the Jackal seizing the 11 ministers attending. Without the latter ingredient, one hopes, this week’s meeting in Vienna on Thursday and Friday could dominate many front pages.

Even before Tuesday’s almost 800-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average prompted by doubts about a trade deal with China, the market was responding furiously to economic indicators. The price of oil has dropped 30 percent since October — that’s good for manufacturers, but not good for oil companies or, in particular, producers of shale oil, which is not profitable at below $50 per barrel.

Complicating the picture have been clashing political factors: President Trump effectively giving a pass to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman regarding the murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi because the U.S.-Saudi partnership is so important, and then the extraordinary high-fivecaught on video between MbS, as Saudi Arabia’s effective leader is known, and President Vladimir Putin at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires last weekend.  Who has the key special relationship, Washington or Moscow?..

 

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