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Renita Jablonski: You’ve probably noticed in the midst of all the severe ups and downs of the markets over the last couple weeks, gasoline prices are lower.
That’s in part because oil prices are leaking. Oil prices dropped below $70 a barrel yesterday, something that hasn’t been seen in more than a year. That brought a big uh-oh for OPEC. So now, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is calling an emergency meeting next week in Vienna to consider a production cut. This meeting wasn’t supposed to happen until mid-November.
Marketplace’s European correspondent Stephen Beard is standing by. So Stephen, how serious are these concerns?
Stephen Beard: Quite a bit, I would say. According to one estimate, the cartel’s revenues have fallen by a billion dollars a day since oil prices peaked in July. And Deutsche Bank has produced some interesting figures indicating some of the individual problems — Iran and Venezuela need prices to be around $95 a barrel in order to balance their budgets.
Jablonski: Now this emergency meeting came about because we saw a 14-month low on oil prices, yet this morning we’re seeing that prices have jumped above $72 a barrel. What’s the connection there?
Beard: That does seem to suggest that markets believe that OPEC will indeed agree a cut in production next week, and that will at least put something of a flaw under the price of oil. You have the traditional hawks, like Iran and Venezuela, very keen on pushing oil prices higher. But also the Saudis, always eager not to upset the Americans, are apparently supporting a cut because they’re worried the oil prices collapsing could hit their budget quite hard.
Jablonski: And of course, falling oil prices tied to falling demand. Does anyone have a sense of how deep this recession is or is going to be?
Beard: Well, they only have to look at the figures. Figures out recently indicate that U.S. demand for oil fell by 8 percent in the year to September, and clearly demand for oil, certainly in the West, is falling quite significantly. And demand in emerging markets doesn’t appear to be growing fast enough to take up the slack.
Jablonski: All right, Marketplace’s European correspondent Stephen Beard in London. Thank you, Stephen.
Beard: OK, Renita.
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