World oil: the growing case for international policy
Can the economic theory of depletion be reconciled with low petroleum prices? This article uses a revision of the theory, which reflects demand functions that rise in response to increasing world population and income. The magnitude of producers' and consumers' surplus is estimated under both competitive and monopolistic assumptions; the result indicates a present value comparable to or in excess of today's gross world economic product. Game theory suggests a framework that explains the interaction between oil pricing and military policy, and the economic incentives that result in a general pattern of recent market equilibrium crude oil prices often fluctuating with a $15-20 per barrel range. The analysis concludes that the economic incentives for political instability in the Persian Gulf will increase, and more formal methods of setting the international framework for Persian Gulf oil may be expected. Copyright 2000 Western Economic Association International.
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