Oil's Sinking Fortunes

ILLUSTRATION FOR TIME BY EMILIANO PONZI

Correction Appended: January 19, 2009

Few of us will miss 2008. Stock markets tanked. Government budgets bled as billions went to bail out banks. Thousands lost their jobs or their homes, or both. Yet amid the gloom there was one reason to celebrate as the year ended: filling your car with gas got cheaper with each day. After hitting a high of $147 a barrel in July, world oil prices have crashed to their lowest levels since 2004. By Jan. 7 the cost of oil for February delivery was around $43 a barrel — less than half the price of a year...

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