Global economic surprises in 2015? There were a few. For me, the biggest was Saudi Arabia’s willingness to forego hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue to cripple its emerging competitors in the global oil market. One of the quieter members of the G20 reminded everyone why it has a seat at the big table.
This time a year ago, many assumed Riyadh’s price war with higher cost producers of oil would be a temporary; the world’s largest oil exporter eventually would use its dominant place in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries to move the cartel to curb production and reverse the free fall. Didn’t happen. Crude dropped 36 percent last year after plunging more than 50 percent in 2014, forcing North American producers to bail on expansion plans and fire thousands of workers. Canada suffered a recession, as oil wealth evaporated and business investment plunged. Russia’s economic crisis deepened, and emerging markets broadly struggled amid the chaos in commodity markets. Last year was overall a lousy one for the global economy. That wasn’t all Saudi Arabia’s fault, but it must accept a share of the blame.
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