Thursday, January 3, 2008

How Cow! Oil Tops $100 a barrel

Economic stories make big news. Covering world economic events is becoming a much bigger part of foreign correspondent's jobs.

This shouldn't be a surprise for any student wishing to work and report overseas - history shows most wars were fought over economic circumstances.

This is yet another reason why foreign correspondents need to subscribe to a life-long track of learning - read everything you can get your hands on, go to graduate school, study, travel, and learn about new things. Better yet, specialize in a particular topic - like business or economics. This will make you much more valuable to employers.

Business isn't boring - it is the grease that makes the wheels turn.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the surging price of oil, from just over $10 a barrel a decade ago to $100 yesterday, is altering the wealth and influence of nations and industries around the world.

These power shifts will only widen if prices keep climbing, as many analysts predict. Costly oil already is forcing sweeping changes in the airline and auto sectors. It is intensifying the politics of climate change and adding urgency to the search both for fresh sources of crude and for oil alternatives once deemed fringe.

he long oil-price boom is posing wrenching challenges for the world's poorest nations, while enriching and emboldening producers in the Middle East, Russia and Venezuela. Their increasing muscle has a flip side: a decline of U.S. clout in many parts of the world.

Steep gasoline prices also threaten America's long love affair with the automobile, while putting strains on many lower-income people outside big cities, who must spend an increasing share of their budgets just on fuel to get to work.

No one can say for sure whether sky-high oil -- part of a price boom in a wide range of commodities, from gold to wheat -- is here to stay. But most in the industry agree that a 20-year stretch in which oil was consistently cheap is long gone. The global thirst for oil shows little sign of retreating, and large new discoveries are few. Some in the industry say prices could go far higher; others suspect that speculators -- or an economic slump in the U.S. or China -- could send prices falling in the near term.

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