Are We Over A Barrel?

Soaring energy prices could be the spoiler in the future--but the odds are long

Will spiraling energy costs doom the longest economic boom in American history? With petroleum selling in the past few weeks for nearly $35, close to a 10-year high, talk of a possible oil shock--a threat unseen since the 1990 Gulf War--is suddenly gaining respectability. And prices could go higher still if dictator Saddam Hussein suddenly shuts off Iraq's flow of crude, which the victorious West has allowed to flow into Western markets since 1996. Or if the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries makes good on threats to rein in crude-oil supplies in 2001. The Clinton Administration's decision last September to release...

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