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The Reckoning by David Halberstam

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48. OPEC UNRAVELS

THE FALL OF THE Shah in 1979 and the consequent surge in the price of oil did not surprise Charley Maxwell, the oil industry analyst on Wall Street who, by dint of being prescient and connected to a suddenly hot field, had become something of a celebrity in his field. One of the things he later liked to point out in describing the feverish events of 1978-82, when the price of oil seemed out of control, was that the price set by OPEC never went above the spot (or market) price. It was not OPEC that was pushing the price up, Maxwell realized, but the consumer nations themselves, caught up in hysteria as the unthinkable took place. It was not a shortage of oil so much as fear of a shortage that caused the crazy escalation of prices. ...

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