Business: Spreading Shock Waves

As oil becomes scarcer and more expensive, the economic shock waves will hit hard throughout the economy. Petroleum is a basic raw material used in many products, including chemicals, paints, plastics and synthetic textiles. Other industries—steel, aluminum, electric power—use large quantities of oil in the course of production. When petroleum supplies become pinched and prices push up, these industries may well be forced to restrict output and raise their own prices, thus putting even more inflationary pressures on the economy. The new oil crisis, says James Wall, president of Celanese Chemical Co., confronts the American economy with "probably the most...

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