The Social Costs to the U.S. of Monopolization of the World Oil Market, 1972-1991

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The partial monopolization of the world oil market by the OPEC cartel has produced significant economic costs to the economies of the world. This paper reports estimates of the costs of monopolization of oil to the U.S. over the period 1972-1991. Two fundamental assumptions of the analysis are, (1) that OPEC has acted as a monopoly, albeit with limited control, knowledge, and ability to act and, (2) that the U.S. and other consuming nations could, through collective (social) action affect the cartel's ability to act as a monopoly. We measure total costs by comparing actual costs for the 1972-1991 period ... continued below

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Greene, D.L. January 1, 1993.

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Description

The partial monopolization of the world oil market by the OPEC cartel has produced significant economic costs to the economies of the world. This paper reports estimates of the costs of monopolization of oil to the U.S. over the period 1972-1991. Two fundamental assumptions of the analysis are, (1) that OPEC has acted as a monopoly, albeit with limited control, knowledge, and ability to act and, (2) that the U.S. and other consuming nations could, through collective (social) action affect the cartel's ability to act as a monopoly. We measure total costs by comparing actual costs for the 1972-1991 period to a hypothetical ''more competitive'' world oil market scenario. By measuring past costs we avoid the enormous uncertainties about the future course of the world oil market and leave to the reader's judgment the issue of how much the future will be like the past. We note that total cost numbers cannot be used to determine the value of reducing U.S. oil use by one barrel. They are useful for describing the overall size of the petroleum problem and are one important factor in deciding how much effort should be devoted to solving it. Monopoly pricing of oil transfers wealth from US. oil consumers to foreign oil producers and, by increasing the economic scarcity of oil, reduces the economy's potential to produce. The actions of the OPEC Cartel have also produced oil price shocks, both upward and downward, that generate additional costs because of the economy's inherent inability to adjust quickly to a large change in energy prices. Estimated total costs to the United States from these three sources for the 1972-1991 period are put at $4.1 trillion in 1990$ ($1.2 T wealth transfer, $0.8 T macroeconomic adjustment costs, $2.1 T potential GNP losses). The cost of the US's primary oil supply contingency program is small ($10 B) by comparison.

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  • Other Information: PBD: 1 Jan 1993

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  • Report No.: ORNL-6744
  • Grant Number: AC05-00OR22725
  • DOI: 10.2172/814565 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 814565
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc739600

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  • January 1, 1993

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Oct. 18, 2015, 6:40 p.m.

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  • March 31, 2016, 1:13 p.m.

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Greene, D.L. The Social Costs to the U.S. of Monopolization of the World Oil Market, 1972-1991, report, January 1, 1993; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc739600/: accessed October 21, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.