Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 23 No. 3 (Summer 2009)


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World Oil: Market or Mayhem?

Article Citation

Smith, James L. 2009. "World Oil: Market or Mayhem?" Journal of Economic Perspectives, 23(3): 145-64.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.23.3.145


Many observers regard the world oil market as a puzzle. Why are oil prices so volatile? Why did prices spike in the summer of 2008, and what role did speculators play? How important is OPEC? Where are oil prices headed in the long run? Is "peak oil" a genuine concern? Any attempt to answer these questions must be informed and disciplined by economics. We examine the evidence on each of these issues and provide an interpretation of developments in the world oil market from the perspective of economic theory.

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Smith, James L. (Southern Methodist U)

JEL Classifications

G13: Contingent Pricing; Futures Pricing; option pricing
L71: Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Hydrocarbon Fuels
Q41: Energy: Demand and Supply


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