Oil: The War Begins

Prices break, and OPEC scrambles to keep them from going into a free fall

From Europe to the Middle East, harried members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries huddled through the week. The structure of bloated oil prices that OPEC had erected over the past decade, condemning rich and poor nations alike to recurrent bouts of inflation and stagnation, was shaking wildly. Prices had broken and were threatening to go into a free fall.

To prevent that from happening, the oil ministers of Saudi Arabia and several of its oil-rich Persian Gulf neighbors...

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