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Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold 0th Edition

2.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521720700
ISBN-10: 0521720702
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Editorial Reviews


From the Foreword by James A. Baker III, Former U.S. Secretary of State

"Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises is impressively prescient in highlighting the risks associated with major imbalances in the global financial system. The book moves well beyond economic analysis to assess other factors that shape production decisions by major energy exporters. Above all, the authors continually - and rightly - stress the global nature of the challenges confronting us. The authors give Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises a richness of analytic texture rare in books of its kind."

Praise for Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises

"A boldly original and provocative display of the mutual amplifications since the 1970s of a global energy price cycle, a global finance cycle, and geopolitical turmoil in the Middle East into a super cycle that is 'endogenous and self-perpetuating.'" ― Clement M. Henry, University of Texas at Austin

"In today's geo-strategic environment, few threats are more perilous than the potential cutoff of energy supplies. Unfortunately, recent experience provides us little reason to be confident that market rationality will always win the day where petro-politics is concerned. El-Gamal and Jaffe offer a timely analysis of the potentially perilous interaction of oil insecurity, mounting U.S. debt, and Middle East geopolitical conflicts. They argue that the future stability of the dollar and financial markets remains very much tied to the fate of oil, a sobering reflection on a key challenge to U.S. foreign policy and international financial diplomacy. Scholars and statesmen alike should take note of the provocative analysis in Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises." ― Senator Richard Lugar, Ranking Minority Member, U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee

"Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises is compelling reading, not simply because it clearly explains the global curse of 'black gold.' It also weaves together the interdependent relationships binding the inherently cyclical foundations of the petroleum sector with global currency dislocations, wealth transfer adjustments impacting emerging markets, radical income disruptions in countries that produce oil (and other commodities), and the domestic and international repercussions for geopolitics and global violence. No other study articulates so pointedly the core global issues that impact today's global political economy. It takes the combined talents and analyses of two leading scholars from the overlapping professions of economics, Middle East studies, and energy studies to be able to provide the general public, scholarly professionals and policymakers alike with this seminal, pioneering study of the issues at the heart of today's globalized world." ― Edward L. Morse, Managing Director at Louis Capital Markets, former Chief Energy Economist at Lehman Brothers and publisher of Petroleum Intelligence Weekly

"El-Gamal and Jaffe have written a timely, provocative book that students and scholars in several fields will find useful.... Recommended." ― Choice

Book Description

Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises studies the links between past and present oil crises, financial crises, and geopolitical conflicts to offer new insights into the driving forces that keep bringing the world to the brink of economic catastrophe.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (December 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521720702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521720700
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #739,491 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The authors of "Oil, Dollars, Debt, and Crises: The Global Curse of Black Gold" (ODDC) set out a modest goal with this book, and I think they hit it. "Very little that we have reviewed in this book will come as a surprise to the informed reader," the authors begin the conclusion, continuing that "energy prices, the regulation of financial markets and institutions, and international relations as they pertain to Middle East geopolitics are so closely intertwined" that they have to be viewed together. These statements are certainly true, and ODDC, intended as a guide to basic issues more than an answer to specific questions or an argument for anything, hits its target. I've deducted one star for mistakes related to regional politics, but neither author is a regional specialist and that isn't the core of the book.

The authors make no grand argument aside from the point about intercorrelation, but lots of smaller arguments on specific issues, and in some cases they simply raise a topic, present the views of various experts on it, and then move on. That the oil boom of the 1970s helped contribute to the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s is well known; ODDC makes the further argument the oil resurgence in the 2003-2008 period helped fuel the bubble economy in the UAE, the white elephant "economic cities" of Saudi Arabia, and the Islamic finance fad. And of course the U.S. Fed is part of the problem - Greenspan's easy money policies weakened the dollar, thus contributing to artificially high oil prices, and this in turn fueled an oil boom that circled back into the real economy through the global project finance equivalent of the subprime mortgage industry.

ODDC covers virtually every angle but sometimes makes them so superficially as to not be helpful.
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Format: Paperback
The factual shortcomings of this book have been noted elsewhere, such as the claim that the United States "fully supported" the creation of al-Qaida to fight the USSR (p.66-see note 1 below). The book's use of sources is not convincing: for example (p.117), the authors mention that Britons disapproved of the Bretton Woods Agreement because it virtually restored the gold standard (2). But to support this, the authors cite a work published in 1932! Needless to say, that work--a polemical pamphlet--reveals nothing about what most Britons thought even in 1932, let alone in 1944..

Arguments about economics are dismal. On p.5, they refer to the dollar price of gold as a measure of its "real value." This is just a bizarre ideological position (there is a chart showing the ratio of the price of oil to that of gold since 1973, which makes this point obvious-note 3). On p.13, they mention that a "shift to pricing exports in Euros would insulate [oil exporting countries of the Middle East] from effects of dollar depreciation." Two points here: the euro can also depreciate, and no, pricing in euros won't insulate oil from the effects of the US dollar losing value against other currencies since objective reality would be the same: US-pegged economies would continue to represent a large share of world demand for oil.

If the euro, US$1.4651 on the date of publication of this book, were to soar to $2.93/euro shortly afterward, then the fact that oil was priced in euros would merely mean that the price of oil--US$72.64 that particular day--would now be US$145.28 instead, or that EZ consumers would buy a larger share of output than American consumers. On p.
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I didn't like this book at all. The book was poorly written for the following reasons:

1) The argument wasn't linear or methodical. There was lots of jumping around and what felt like rambling.

2) The positing, without support, of easily-disproven sub-conclusions.

3) Incorrect definitions of terms. For example, the 1990s tech bubble was not a financial bubble.

4) A lot of discusson was trite. For example, at some point in the future, stocks will be lower than they are now.

5) Flawed logic, sometimes due to # 1-4, but also for different things.
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