A Prelude to the Foundation of Political Economy: Oil, War, by Cyrus Bina (auth.)

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By Cyrus Bina (auth.)

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Extra resources for A Prelude to the Foundation of Political Economy: Oil, War, and Global Polity

Sample text

The chapter concludes with a summation and setting the crisis within a larger polity. The Review of Literature The oil crisis of 1973–74 was an important economic and political event that has been embroiled in controversy ever since. At first glance, because of the diversity of opinions and the number of unsettled questions, there seem to be as many theories about the oil crisis as there are theorists in this field of inquiry. But it may be useful to distinguish the common threads among prevailing views on the subject to be able to discern various theoretical lines and schools of thought.

1 To sum up the arguments made by these theorists, one needs to link together a combination of emphases which add up to an explanation of the oil crisis of 1973–74. The first emphasis is upon “law of supply and demand,” within the sphere of exchange (Vernon 1975a). The second emphasis is upon the element of monopoly and “ability” on the part of OPEC to set prices at will (Penrose 1975). Third, some speak of the dependence of the US economy on foreign oil, especially on OPEC oil, which in turn created the severe momentary shortage that is said to have threatened “the supply security,” as the determining factor (Lenczowski 1975, McKie 20 Fou n dat ion of P ol i t ic a l E c onom y 1975, Blair 1976).

Not only after the oil embargo ended, but even prior to it, the market was also flooded with huge quantities of crude oil. Moreover, even the decline in demand resulting from the worldwide recession of 1974–75 did not seem to cause any substantial drop in the price of oil. In fact, after the oil embargo of 1973, a new floor for oil prices was clearly established. This implies that changes in supply and demand conditions were themselves the consequence of more fundamental changes in the international oil industry.

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