Oil Prices Have World's Meanies Over a Barrel

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One of my favorite theological sayings is that Satan is "sitting on the curb crying because he didn't get to do all the things people said he did." That one is about the doctrine of sin.

There is a trio of meanies sitting on the curb doing some serious crying these days over the doctrine of supply and demand.

The spreading world economic slump has oil prices now near 40 dollars a barrel and sailing down a supply and demand mineshaft toward 25 dollars a barrel or lower, so say some of the experts.

Expect to pay a dollar a gallon or less next year for gasoline.

Go ahead, celebrate. Let the SUV warm up in the driveway extra long tomorrow.

And rejoice over the potentially catastrophic economic misfortune being delivered to the doorsteps of some really nasty regimes around the world.

Iran, Venezuela and Russia had each been using revenues from jacked up oil prices to build up their militaries, fund anti-American schemes and movements, and work to thwart U.S. and democratic goals whenever they felt like it. But the money for anti-American adventures is drying up faster than a tired old West Texas well.

Iran was already doing the economic limbo when oil was near 150 dollars a barrel. To call Iran's absurdly mismanaged economy a basket case now would be an insult to basket cases everywhere. President Ahmadinejad, already unpopular, could be ousted because of it. That wouldn't change Iran's foreign policy appreciably though, but an internally weaker Iran is a better Iran, and not necessarily a more dangerous Iran. Although I wouldn't be surprised to see fresh Iranian threats and provocations against the U-S Navy in the Persian Gulf, just to move oil prices higher.

You said Russia is back? Not so fast, my friend. Russia came back on the back of peak oil prices. Since May, Russian financial markets have contracted 70 percent. Western capital has been fleeing Russia like the proverbial rats from a sinking ship. The Guardian reports the "collapse likely to have catastrophic consequences, including a possible devaluation of the ruble and a severe drop in living standards next year."

Tsar Valdimir Putin's tremendous popularity has been tied largely to prosperity. It will be fun geopolitical entertainment to see what poverty does to Vlad's sky high approval numbers. But an impoverished Russia could be a more dangerous Russia.

Venezuela? Much could be said about the comic dictator Hugo Chavez and his anti-American road show, but let's leave it at this: No Venezuelan leader in recent times has ever politically survived a crash in oil prices of this magnitude. We can only hope.

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