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The Coupled Cycles of Geopolitics and Oil Prices

We analyze the coupled cycles of Middle-East geopolitical violence and oil prices. Building on earlier work that shows that low oil prices are regularly followed by geopolitical strife, and that the latter is usually followed by higher oil prices, due to actual or feared disruption in oil supply, we focus in this paper on one particular factor: Which geopolitical events are most likely to lead to sustained supply disruptions? Using discrete wavelet analysis of oil production at the country level, we find that military conflicts that destroy production installations or disrupt oil transportation networks are the most significant antecedents of sustained, long term, disruptions in oil supply; whereas nonviolent regime change, internal political strife, and low level geopolitical tensions have more limited sustained impact. We discuss a framework to analyze whether conflict-related disruptions to oil supply could be endogenous to the oil cycle and offer some policy considerations for ameliorating that cycle's impacts.
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Keywords: Middle-East, Violence, Oil Prices

DOI: 10.5547/2160-5890.7.2.melg

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Published in Volume 7, Number 2 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.