The Oil Card
Global Economic Warfare in the 21st Century
By James R. Norman
Challenging the conventional wisdom behind oil pricing, this compact book sheds an entirely new light on the workings of "free" commodity markets and oil industry supply and demand "fundamentals." Its purpose is to look at the use of oil as an economic weapon.
The book assembles a now well-documented chronology of how the US and its allies, including Saudi Arabia, pushed down oil prices dramatically in the 1980s, and kept them low for a decade. It was a concerted and stunningly successful effort to break the former Soviet Union by depriving it of desperately needed hard-currency income.
It then raises the question whether those same price-control levers have lately been pushed in the opposite direction to rein in another target: the oil-short Peoples Republic of China. Contrary to popular perceptions, media commentary and official explanations, the book methodically lays out the geopolitical logic and the market mechanisms behind the stunning 12-fold run-up of oil prices from 1998 to mid-2008. It also offers an explanation for the sudden price drop from almost $150/barrel to under $100 as Russia again flexed its muscle by invading Georgia.
This timely and unorthodox analysis offers a clear and compelling explanation for the huge and otherwise unjustified gyrations in oil and other commodity prices in recent years. It also contains unique viewpoints on the reasons behind the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the fall of Russian oil major Yukos. The book will appeal to a broad audience—from students and practitioners of geopolitics to hard-pressed consumers and energy producers wondering how long windfall prices can defy gravity.
Jim Norman is a veteran business journalist and energy reporter. He is currently a contributing writer for McGraw-Hill's Platts Oilgram News, where he was a senior writer for 10 years before retiring in mid-2007. He has also been a senior editor at Forbes magazine and for 10 years was at BusinessWeek, where he was Houston bureau chief in the mid-1980s. Prior to that, he won an AP award for investigative reporting (on an oil and gas scam) while a reporter for the Ann Arbor News in his home state of Michigan. He lives in New York City.
At Platts, Norman has been noted for his coverage of oil industry finance, economics, deal-making and chicanery. His "prophetic press reports," as early as 1998, were cited by Paul Volcker's UN Independent Inquiry Committee for laying bare the likelihood of kickbacks and money laundering involving the Iraq Oil-For-Food program. His critical analysis of Enron accounting and governance in mid-2001 helped trigger the SEC investigation which led to Enron's downfall.
“Jim Norman has brilliantly detailed a powerful and frightening explanation for why oil prices keep rising to new highs. His outstanding analysis of politics and markets may have unveiled the missing link between supply and demand fundamentals and the relentless surge in oil prices. This book is a must read for consumers and investors alike. After reading The Oil Card, you will never feel the same about ‘free’ markets again. Once you start reading, you won’t be able to put it down.”
–– Frederick Leuffer Former top Wall Street oil analyst, president of FPL Inc.
“I thoroughly enjoyed reading 'The Oil Card' by veteran oil industry reporter Jim Norman. He brilliantly used his extensive knowledge of the industry and many years of reporting experience to establish a strong link between oil price cycles and past geopolitical events. He has done an excellent job in providing the reader with well documented and referenced findings supported by historical facts. His unique conclusions may be controversial, but they are certainly compelling. The Oil Card proves that oil and politics are closely linked.”
–– Fadel Gheit Managing Director, Oil & Gas Research, Oppenheimer & Co.
“I could not put The Oil Card down. I tore through it and intend to read it again.”
–– Catherine Austin Fitts Founder, Solari Investment Advisory Services