Recent oil price trends underscore OPEC's unwieldy market power

Click here to enlarge imageAt the end of 1997, with the Asian economic crisis unfolding and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries raising production at its now infamous Dec. 1 meeting, some industry observers claimed that OPEC was out of touch, if not moribund.The ensuing price decline of 1998 divided OPEC watchers into two camps: those who said the price decline was proof of OPEC's impotence and those who pointed to OPEC's high production and falling prices as evidence of OPEC's power, however mismanaged.During the intervening 21/2 years, events in the oil market have validated, like no other period since the 1970s, OPEC's clear but largely unwieldy market p...

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