OIL: The OPEC Supercartel in Splitsville

For the past three years, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has reigned as the world's most successful cartel ever, seemingly able to disregard both world public opinion and market forces. Between late 1973 and 1975, OPEC quintupled global oil prices, helping cause the industrialized world's most severe recession since the 1930s, and managed to make its inflated prices stick even through a worldwide glut of petroleum. Officials in the U.S. and other oil-importing countries kept wishfully thinking that OPEC would somehow split apart, but their hopes were always foiled −until last week. Then, at a price-setting meeting in...

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