At a Price?
Oil and the Economic Future
Friday 15th January: This week’s oil price tumble to $30 a barrel may confirm the gloomy picture of the global economy. But it should also serve as a warning that geo political stability may also take a hit, explains Professor Harold James.
The oil price is often regarded as a sort of thermometer to measure the health of the world economy. It surged in the financial crisis, and the dramatic fall to under USD 30 a barrel (from almost USD 150 in June 2008) is now being interpreted as a sign of a new impending meltdown.
It is worth thinking about how the lines of causation work. Expensive oil produces increased costs for most rich industrial economies, and so a surge of oil prices will slow economic growth. Spikes in the oil price were associated with global recessions in the1973-74 and 1979-80 (the oil price shocks), but also in 2000 and 2008. A slowing of economic growth might be expected – other things being equal – to lead to a price decline. That is roughly the story of today’s situation. Oil prices plummeted in the immediate aftermath of the September 2008 Lehman shock, but then recovered substantially, as the vigour of emerging market growth stopped a repetition of the interwar Great Depression. Today, the weakness in all major emerging markets – with the possible exception of India – is depressing the demand for oil. It is not surprising that petroleum problems are now regarded as proof of global economic fragility.
Common Concern for Christians in the Middle East
Wednesday 23rd December: This week over 60 MPs and peers wrote to the Prime Minister to ask that the crimes against minorities in Syria should be treated as genocide. That letter echoed another warning by Prince Charles that Christian communities in the Middle East were ‘being targeted like never before by fanatical Islamist militants intent on dividing communities that had lived together for centuries’. In America, two Rabbisfrom the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a leading Jewish Human Rights NGO have now added their voice to the policy discussion, calling in the Wall Street Journal for the State Department to admit these refugees to the US.
In a discussion based on this article, here Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein explain why Middle East Christians present a special case for humanitarian concern: