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OPEC: “Half the world’s financial assets”

| Monday April 14th, 2008 | 0 Comments

Ever thought about where your oil dollars go once you’ve extracted them, screaming, from your wallet? With oil prices now settling into a comfortable cruising altitude above $100 a barrel, the answer is pretty stunning.
We’re all familiar with the toll high oil prices have taken on our personal economic well-being, particularly among those with the least disposable income (disclosure: I don’t own a car, so I don’t have first-hand experience, but some of my friends drive).
But what about the toll on the broader economy, and implications for geopolitics? The Institute for the Analysis of Global Security took a good, hard look at the numbers, and recently published a report (warning: PDF) with its findings. The question is … how long can we keep holding up our end of the bargain? Jim Strock posted a disturbing excerpt on his blog:

At $100 a barrel OPEC’s market capitalization stands on roughly $92 trillion, almost half of the world’s total financial assets and nearly twice the market capitalization of all the companies traded in the world’s 27 top stock markets.

So … what does that mean in terms of OPEC’s market power? The numbers are truly horrifying:

As an illustration, at current oil prices it would take OPEC three years to buy 20 percent voting block in every S&P 500 company. Luft claims that it would be hard to see how such buying power would not upset the West’s economic and political sovereignty.

(emphasis added)
You’d think this type of information would be enough to sway Congress to support better fuel economy standards for American-made cars, but then, within a few years, America’s car companies could be owned by Venezuela and Nigeria, so perhaps it’s academic.
Maybe if the automakers viewed fuel economy in light of potential hostile takeovers by Hugo Chavez or Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, they’d come to the table.
(originally posted at Calling All Ants)


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