Monday, December 26, 2005


All fall down: ethnic tensions exacerbated by energy price instability

While we focus on the Middle East, fault lines open up all over the world. Any one of them could shake our comfortable little nest, with repercussions in the oil market, shipping, or currency instability. Say, for example, this one: Russia and Ukraine are on the brink of a political crisis over gas prices that symbolises the widening gulf between the two former Soviet countries.The state-controlled Russian gas monopoly, Gazprom, is threatening to cut off flows on January 1 if Ukraine does not agree to pay quadrupled prices for the energy that comprises a third of its needs....Kiev has retaliated by threatening to increase tariffs for gas transit to western Europe and raise the rent paid by the Russian navy to keep its Black Sea fleet in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol. Of course, Europe is one of our best customers. Energy shocks there could tip the world into recession. As could lots and lots of other things.
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