They had a good run, those oil rich countries that formed a cartel back in 1973 and called it OPEC. Its first act, as John Waggoner of USA Today reminds, was to declare:
….an oil embargo on the United States … quadrupling the cost of oil in response to U.S. aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur War.
Americans, then, were punished in the pocketbook because Israel resisted and defeated a surprise attack meant to destroy it. And for 40 years, OPEC did not let up. The cartel knew how to hold a grudge. And it got used to the big money.
It took a while but Western ingenuity seems, at last, to have prevailed over the luck of those who had the good fortune to occupy land where you could stick a shovel in the ground and strike oil. Now, a:
… plunge in oil prices has made some — most notably Bank of America Merrill Lynch's commodity chief Francisco Blanch — declare the cartel "effectively dissolved.”
Expect to hear a lot about a downside to this. With the critical element being a loss of “stability.” If that is what we’ve had for the last 40 years – in the Middle East especially – then losing it would be tolerable.
Furthermore, low oil will certainly be a benefit:
The average cost of a gallon of unleaded gasoline ...now $2.646, according to gasbuddy.com, down from $3.258 a year ago. On a 15-gallon fill-up, that's a savings of $9.18.