I drove by a local gas station this morning and was greeted by a sight I had not seen in months, perhaps years – the price of gas had fallen to $1.97 a gallon. My first reaction was “yay,” and then I began to reflect. Coincidentally, the article below was in my Inbox (originally shared by Prophecy News Watch) when I arrived at my desk later that morning:
Guess What Happened The Last Time The Price Of Oil Plunged Below 38 Dollars A Barrel?
By Michael Snyder, on December 7th, 2015, The Economic Collapse
On Monday, the price of U.S. oil dropped below 38 dollars a barrel for the first time in six years. The last time the price of oil was this low, the global financial system was melting down and the U.S. economy was experiencing the worst recession that it had seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s. As I write this article, the price of U.S. oil is sitting at $37.65. For months, I have been warning that the crash in the price of oil would be extremely deflationary and would have severe consequences for the global economy. Nations such as Japan, Canada, Brazil and Russia have already plunged into recession, and more than half of all major global stock market indexes are down at least 10 percent year to date. The first major global financial crisis since 2009 has begun, and things are only going to get worse as we head into 2016. Read more.
If you think about it, falling oil prices benefit some and inflict grave consequences on others. If you are a global net importer of oil, the lower the price of oil the greater the windfall to consumers. If you are a global net exporter, the opposite occurs — falling prices mean one thing: less revenue. To Iran and Russia, for example, falling oil prices squeeze already fragile economies, and if prices continue to fall, economies hanging on by a thread could experience total collapse. CNN’s guest columnist Frida Ghitis1, posted this article: “Vladimir Putin’s woes are about to get worse,” (updated 5:23 AM EST, Wed December 17, 2014). The point of the article can be summed in one key paragraph:
Only recently authorities had predicted a mild recession for next year. That is all changing now. Instead of the original government forecast of a 0.8% decline, the Central Bank said that if oil stays under $60 a barrel, the economy could contract more than 4.5%. That is a deep and painful recession.
The CNN article was posted in late 2014 when oil prices were approaching $60 a barrel. Now, they are at $37 a barrel. According to a very recent article from The Telegraph, the Russian Central Bank’s estimate of economic contraction has continued to exceed its forecasts. Imagine what the contraction will be if oil prices continue to slide to levels not seen in the last fifty years, $20 a barrel? Not only is Russia impacted by the collapse of oil prices, the cost of Russia’s military incursion in Syria to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — “between $80 million and $115 million since strikes began on September 30,” has the impact of choking an already gasping economy. Read more.
We haven’t even considered the impact to the price of oil of Iran’s sanctions being lifted in early 2016. According to one source, Iran is expected to double its oil exports to 2.2 billion barrels a day in hopes to recover its pre-embargo market share. Recognizing this, the Gulf Cooperating Council, composed of six Arab oil exporters2, recently opted to leave oil production at current levels rather than risk a loss of market share by the influx of Iranian exports. The GCC economies are not in the perilous condition that Russia and Iran are in — they can afford the price drop in oil rather than lose market share. The result? The law of supply and demand will move prices of oil even lower with an influx of Iranian oil into the world petroleum markets. To the end-consumers, individuals like you and me, this seems to be a boon. The price of a gallon of gas has been over $4 a gallon in my location, and literally millions of $$ have been taken out of the pockets of the consumers and transferred to the oil exporters in the Middle East and Russia. With collapsing prices, that cash is coming back the other way whether to consumers or to manufacturers using large amounts or supplies of petroleum based products.
But is it really a boon to Americans and American businesses or is a harbinger? At what point do the fragile economies of Russia and Iran force the two allies to take a different approach to the petroleum reserves of their adversaries — Saudi Arabia, being chief among the group? How might Iran and Russia partner together to save their fragile economies, and the citizens that depend upon the economy for survival? What if Russia and Iran chose to use petroleum reserves as a weapon of war? What if they destroyed oil reserves much like ISIS threatened to destroy the massive dams in Iraq that hold precious water reserves for the Euphrates River basins? That is, what if they bombed one of the seven oil fields currently producing oil for the Saudi Royal family? The “Ghawar field” is the largest and most productive oil field in the world, pumping over 5,000,00 barrels a day, and representing over half of total oil production for Saudi Arabia. Ghawar is by far the largest conventional oil field in the world. What do you think would happen to the price of a gallon of a gas at the pump if this one oil field was taken out of the the Saudi supply chain by Iran/Russia? (Read this post for background: Iran and Russia form strategic partnership; and this post: Iran and Russia – As Oil Prices Fall do the End-Times Rise Near?)
In my 2011 book, Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, I interpret Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and the “mountain” upon which Muhammad received his infamous revelation of the so-called “religion of peace,” as the figurative “harlot” of Revelation 17:1, 17:4, 6. The harlot, clothed in purple and adorned with gold, has become rich from the export and sale of the “wine” in her hand (oil), and triumphantly rides her “scarlet beast.” I interpret the beast to be the 8th and final caliphate of Islam. The last caliph leads a consortium of ten to destroy the harlot in “one hour” (Revelation 18:17). interestingly, the beast the harlot rides and the harlot that rides it are “related” to one another, but yet, at enmity with one another. This is the case of Sunni Saudi Arabia (the harlot) and her enemies, Russia and Iran (Shia). The nations and merchants of the world “stand at a distance”(Revelation 18:10) as they witness the tragic end of the harlot, for “no one buys their cargoes” anymore. The text of Revelation 18 includes characteristics fascinatingly close to what might be expected in a nuclear holocaust, all of which occurs in a moment of time (Revelation 18:9-10). The text paints the picture of smoke rising from the burning petroleum, the picture of which is forever etched in the memory of the reader.
So then, what might the collapse of the price of a gallon of gas have to do with you and me? For sure, it doesn’t take $65 to fill up your tank any more. But perhaps it has more to do with you and me than the price of a gallon of gas? Perhaps it has everything to do with the collapse of the world economic systems, and with the collapse of economies, the collapse of the world as we know it. Harbinger or boon, which is it? Only time will tell.
Jesus come quickly.
- Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer and correspondent, she is the author of “The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television.” [↩]
- the GCC is a regional intergovernmental political and economic union consisting of all Arab states of the Persian Gulf, except for Iraq. Its member states are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates [↩]