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Yahoo BusinessOct 20, 2019
Saudi Arabia's Best Bet Is to Crash the Price of Oil
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Saudi Arabia should give up trying to manage the global crude market and return to the pump-at-will policy it briefly adopted in 2014 under its longest serving oil minister Ali Al-Naimi.In the mercantilist world in which we now live, where decisions are based on narrow national interest, it makes no sense for the world's lowest-cost oil producer to subsidize shale and prop up other high-cost suppliers.Of course when it does, oil prices will crash just as they did in 1986 when the country finally abandoned fixed official selling prices. And then, in the aftermath, global investors will get in a flap about all things Saudi: the IPO of the kingdom's state oil company, the financing required to fund a young and under-employed population, Mohammed bin Salman's ambitious Vision 2030 plan to transform the economy away from its dependence on oil.Despite the risks, it's time to admit that market management is failing, even though Saudi Arabia and it "allies" say that it isn't.The OPEC agreement was meant to drain excess stockpiles in six months. But we are now approaching a fourth year of Saudi Arabia leading a global alliance of producers in trying — and failing — to push up oil prices in a sustainable way.For a while it appeared that the cuts were having the desired effect. Inventories came down and Brent prices rose from about $45 a barrel in June 2017 to reach a high of $86 in October 2018. But they swiftly fell back towards $50 and a second round of cuts that began in January has failed to keep them above
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