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Saudis won't allow oil free-fall

The Saudis vividly remember the 1980s, when they cut production and lost a huge portion of their market share, without substantially affecting the global price of oil. They probably have even less confidence today that production cuts would have the desired impact than they did back then. Foto: AP/Hussein Malla

With a few exceptions, the consensus emerging from last week's inconclusive Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting is that if OPEC is not dead, it is at least in a coma. This may be a reasonable judgment based on the group's ability to take collective action on a production cut to bolster the price of oil in the short run.

But a smarter and more accurate conclusion would be that OPEC, at least for the foreseeable future, is no more than Saudi Arabia. And while the Saudis are content with the global oil prices for now, there are political — if not economic — reasons they could be spurred to act against even greater declines in the months ahead...

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