Markos Kounalakis in The Sacramento Bee

December 26, 2014

In his op-ed for The Sacramento Bee, entitled "Caracas and cars, energy and democracy", CMDS fellow Markos Kounalakis writes about the international implications of gas prices and the global energy future.

Driving up to the gas pump these days is not as frightening as it was just a year ago. Prices are not down to my childhood 49 cents a gallon, but today’s petrol has dropped significantly from the heart-stopping hundred dollar SUV fill-ups.

That is good news for American commuters, with the extra buck or two of savings possibly going toward holiday gift spending. But this good news for U.S. consumers is bad news for countries and governments that rely heavily on high prices for gas exports to pad their leaders’ slush funds or pay their nations’ bills.

Russia is an obvious loser in this game, with about two-thirds of its economy depending on oil exports and high prices. Under sanctions for its Ukraine adventure and Crimean annexation and facing a seemingly unstoppable slide in the value of its ruble currency, Moscow is finally paying a heavy price for both its military aggression and its overreliance on global energy demand.

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