Adjusting to Volatile Energy Prices

Overview

Oil price volatility has been highly criticized on many fronts, from the top-level official to the average consumer. Authorities from both producing and consuming nations have called for mechanisms to restore order to a chaotic market.

The author traces the development of petroleum commodity markets, then examines the quest by producers and consumers for stability in world oil markets. He finds that modest producer and consumer gains can be realized through negotiations that ...

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Overview

Oil price volatility has been highly criticized on many fronts, from the top-level official to the average consumer. Authorities from both producing and consuming nations have called for mechanisms to restore order to a chaotic market.

The author traces the development of petroleum commodity markets, then examines the quest by producers and consumers for stability in world oil markets. He finds that modest producer and consumer gains can be realized through negotiations that achieve removal of barriers to trade, elimination of hurdles to foreign investment, and strengthening of financial institutions.

Verleger reviews previous attempts to stabilize price fluctuations of other commodities and finds that these efforts have invariably failed. He argues that the very size of the oil market makes it unlikely that an effort to stabilize oil prices would succeed. Moreover, he shows that an oil price stabilization agreement would impose large costs on consumers.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
1 Why a Dialogue 11
Early Efforts at Energy Cooperation 11
The Goals of Economic Policy 16
The Views of the Protagonists 17
The Economic Importance of Oil 19
The Petroleum "Problem" 21
Is There an Oil Price Problem? 28
A Better Justification for a Dialogue 36
2 Petroleum Markets: Function, Nature, and Performance 41
The Function of Petroleum Markets 42
Types of Petroleum Commodity Markets 50
Measuring the Performance of Petroleum Markets 67
3 The Objectives of the Participants 85
Price Stability and Market Regulation 88
Reducing the Uncertainty of Demand Projections 90
The Issue of Investment 91
Reform of Contracts 91
Security of Supply and Strategic Stocks 92
Distribution of the Rents 94
Environmental Questions 95
Downstream Integration 96
The Role of New Financial Instruments 98
4 Price Stabilization Schemes: Bad and Probably Impractical 103
The Theoretical Background 103
Is There an Externality? 106
The Value of Buffer Stocks 109
Experience from Actual Stabilization Schemes 109
Proposals to Stabilize Oil Prices 120
Implications of Surplus Capacity 123
Costs of a Pure Buffer Stock Agreement 125
5 The Market Alternative to Price Stabilization 133
Application of Alternative Instruments 135
Applying New Instruments to an Old Problem 139
Impediments to Hedging 159
6 Framing a Dialogue 167
Barriers to Foreign Direct Investment 168
Removal of Barriers to Trade 184
Maintaining Open Markets 194
Strategic Stockpiles 201
Petroleum Taxation in Consuming Countries 204
The Environmental Dimension 208
An Agenda for Negotiations 217
7 Conclusions 219
Trade and Investment Negotiations: Not an Agreement to Fix Prices 221
The Key Elements of an Agreement 223
Economic Benefits of an ETI Agreement 235
Appendix A Potential Gains to Oil-Producing Countries from Hedging 1991 Sales of Oil During the Fourth Quarter of 1990 241
References 247
Index 253
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