Friday, December 19, 2008

Over a Barrel

What do Venezuela, Iran, and Russia have in common?

Besides the fact that they're ruled by despots?

Not long ago, when oil was selling at over $140 a barrel, these three oil-producers were the "cocks of the walk."

"We're in charge now," their leaders chorused.

Now that oil has fallen over $100 a barrel, what song are they singing?

"Among emerging markets, Russia has been one of the hardest hit by the global financial crisis and plunging oil prices, the mainstay of the Russian economy. These factors have put the national currency under intense strain and triggered massive stock market losses and capital outflows from the country."

Hugo Chavez in Venezuela was trumpeting the triumph of socialism over capitalism, but the grim reality of socialism is that it only looks good when you have a lot of oil, oil is selling at over $148 per barrel, and the price is rising.

When the price goes under $70 a barrel, Venezuela and Iran have problems. When it goes under $40 per barrel, Venezuela and Iran are economic basket cases.

Russia is a bit better off because Russia actually developed industries and built up reserves during the past fat eight years.

Guess who didn't?

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