Why OPEC Should Ease Prices

You don't have to be an economic seer like Alan Greenspan to understand that the last thing an uncertain world economy needs is higher oil prices. Yet that, unbelievably, is OPEC's goal as the organization begins deliberations on Mar. 16 in Vienna. The cartel members are worried that the current spot oil price of $27.60 a barrel is too far below the $35 that oil was fetching last September. Little matter that today's prices are well above the $18 to $21 average range at which oil prices have largely stayed since the 1980s. The recent runup in oil prices has in no small measure been a contributing factor to the ongoing global economic slowdown. It is a major factor in the decline in U.S. economic growth.

Instead of cutting output by as much as 1 million barrels a day in order to firm up prices, as some oil exporters are proposing, OPEC could and should move to see prices ease. That would give some badly needed oxygen to sluggish economies everywhere and help boost economic growth around the world. That in turn would ensure increased demand for energy in the longer term. The go-for-broke attitude prevailing within OPEC is not in anyone's interest.

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