The Dollar-Oil Tango
From the Nixon Chop to the Bush Whack final months of Dubya's Presidency, the Bush Family has been in the Presidency for 12 years of the 37 years. And in positions of lesser power for the entire period. George Bush Sr. was the US representative to the UN during the Nixon era - when Nixon made his infamous remarks to Kissinger about the 'sanctimonious Indians' who had pissed on us (the US) on the Vietnam War'. George Bush Sr. was also the US Vice President during the 8 years of Reagan Presidency.
During these 37 years - between the Nixon Chop (1971) and the Bush Whack (2008), the world has changed significantly.
Every Few Years
Every 10-25 years, the world seems to go from one financial crisis to another. Trucks full of economic analysis follow each crisis - and everyone agrees after each meltdown, that there will not be another catastrophe. What the poor (and not so poor) economists don’t see is that the Anglo Saxon bloc with 80% of the world’s gold production in a choke-hold does what it wants. And the second element - they also control and influence 80% of the Oil production.
Why has this system been such a failure? Simple!
Oil & Dollars
After the Nixon Chop, the OPEC went into a huddle. After all they were selling a limited resource against payment through pieces of paper. Afte the Nixon Chop, the chain of events, post 1970 developments were as follows: -
The international monetary developments as of 15 August 1971 prompted OPEC, in its meeting in Beirut on 22 September 1971, to call for negotiations with the oil companies holding concessions in member countries. By 14 January 1972 there was no progress in negotiations. OPEC, in spite of a total loss of more than 11.5%, was asking for a hike of only 8.57% –- which was the loss in value of the US dollar relative to gold. In fact, what OPEC was asking for was very close to what the International Maritime Conference had, at the time, announced: a minimum increase in the dollar freight rates of 8.6%. Finally, an agreement was reached in Geneva on 20 January 1972 that provided an immediate increase in the posted prices by 8.49%. The settlement also included provisions for further adjustments until 1975 based on an index that reflected changes in the dollar and other key currencies.
Concurrently, on October 17th 1973, OAPEC members (OAPEC, consisting of the Arab members of OPEC plus Egypt and Syria) announced embargo against shipping oil to all countries supporting Israel in the the ongoing Yom Kippur War against Syria, Egypt and Iraq. (the United States, Western Europe, and Japan). Non Arab OPEC members decided to leverage their power to raise world oil prices, after the failure of negotiations with the Oil Companies (then popularly called "Seven Sisters").
The targeted countries responded with a wide variety of new, and mostly permanent, initiatives to contain their further dependency. Europe tied with Russia for the trans Europe gas pipeline. North Sea Oil production was ramped up. Norway and other countries also increased their output. Thus while not fully dependent on the OPEC, this served an important purpose - to demonstrate that the West and OPEC were on opposite sides, whereas the truth was opposite.
OPEC and West - Partners In Loot
Actually, the West saw a transfer of wealth, all over again from the Third World, via the OPEC Petro Dollars. The dollar regime was particularly beneficial to the Western World in general - and US in particular. The Oil dollar linkage allowed the US to create global reserves of US$6 trillion in just foreign exchange reserves. Other debt and trade add upto another US$14 trillion. Approx US$20 trillion is the amount of dollars that the OPEC has managed to transfer from the Third World to the West. But the unhappy outcome of the Oil Crisis of the '73 (for the West) was the riches and power of the Arab countries. What followed was a rising crescendo of Islamic Demonization for the last 37 years.
Oil output is currently over-valued as Western producers and OPEC jointly rig up prices. The Rest of the world pays (recently its is largely India and China) - and pays in dollars which again benefits the West.
The West limits its own output to keep up high prices. OPEC has the advantage of high oil prices. The petro dollars are reinvested back in the West. Finally, OPEC gained - and so did the West.
Mostly poor Indians and Chinese. And even poorer Africans.
War, Oil , Dollars & The Middle East
The justifications for invading Iraq given by the USA, were finally found to be false. The invasion was finally not related to 9/11. Iraq did not have any WMDs either. So, what was were the reasons for Iraqi invasion?
A ring side observer, former Indian Ambassador to Iraq, Ranjit Singh Kalha's book, 'The Ultimate Prize' makes some interesting observations on the genesis of the Iraq invasion.
"The first mistake Saddam made was when he decided in October 2000 to move away from using US dollars as the currency for oil exports, ...under the UN 'oil-for-food' programme." Saddam also converted Iraq's USD 10 billion reserve fund from US dollars to Euros. "Although this act of Saddam was not of very great economic significance in overall terms, it represented for the United States a direct challenge to the use of the dollar as a currency for transactions," ... in his just-released book, "The Ultimate Prize". Iran followed Saddam's move and Venezuela started initiating barter deals outside the dollar system. "If most other Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) followed the Iraqi and Iranian example, the stability of the US dollar would be at stake," Kalha, who was posted in Baghdad during the tumultuous 1992-94 period, says.
Sidelined to the (Indian) National Human Rights Commission, Kalha's book was also buried under a mound of silence, not reviewed and made no impression in the popular media. One press release by PTI was recycled by The Economic Times, Outlook, Sahara Samay, The Hindu, India Today, and NDTV. Google and Live Search hardly turned up anything. Yahoo.co.in showed some these links.
Venezuela and Iran have also moved away from designating oil sales in US dollars. After the Bretton Woods collapse, instead of gold, it was oil that anchored the US currency. West Asian Oil producers agreed to denominate oil in dollars after the Nixon Chop - and in turn there was no real resistance by the West to OPEC oil cartel increase oil prices by a factor of 10.
Western Oil companies also acted in concert with OPEC by limiting their own oil production. From around 4 dollars a barrel to US$40. The West was relatively unscathed - as these petro-dollars were re-invested back in the West. Europe managed to insulate itself with the North Sea Oil (Britain, Norway were the main producers along with Germany and Denmark. Europe also concluded a deal with Russia for a pipeline into Europe. North Sea Oil Production peaked in 1999-2000 with a 6 million barrels per day.
India was also not highly impacted as Bombay High started production in 1974. It was the rest of the Third World which paid this bill.
Bretton Woods - I & II
As Ron Paul noted,
“The agreement with OPEC in the 1970s to price oil in dollars has provided tremendous artificial strength to the dollar as the preeminent reserve currency. This has created a universal demand for the dollar, and soaks up the huge number of new dollars generated each year.”
The Bretton Woods-I system worked for from 1945-1971 (26 years) years because Indians were not allowed to buy gold. India’s finance minster during that crucial period, Morarji Desai, (allegedly on CIA payroll during Lyndon Johnson’s Presidency 1963-1968), presented a record 10 budgets, between February 1958, up to 1967.
Bretton Woods-II, based on oil-dollar anchor, worked for another 35 years (1973-2008) till now. Oil exploration is a 5-10 year investment. Oil should be made another commodity. An easy option is to create a Republic of Pacific Islands - Haiti, Cuba, Grenada, and other West Indies. These islands can become vast oil production centres - and can feed Asia with oil, peacefully.
The third currency bloc is essential - and it can happen only if India and South Africa decide to make it happen.