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Saudi Arabia May Fall Victim to Oil Price War It Started

© AFP 2023 / HASSAN AMMARSaudi Arabia riyals
Saudi Arabia riyals - Sputnik International
Saudi Arabia has been flooding the market with cheap oil to drive competitors out of business, but now it is getting more and more difficult.

Oil markets were negatively affected by Saudi Arabia's decision to cut prices for January deliveries to US and Asian customers. - Sputnik International
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The oil war Saudi Arabia has waged in the oil global market may have negative consequences for the Saudi economy, American author and journalist Matt O’Brien wrote.

"The next casualty in Saudi Arabia's oil price war might be its own economy," the article in WP read.

The reason is that while oil incomes are falling Riyadh is about to make the same mistake that Europe has over and over again, the author underscored. This is cutting its budget without lowering interest rates or softening the economic blow.

"Saudi Arabia has been flooding the market with cheap crude to try to drive its high-cost competitors out of business, but that isn't as easy as it used to be," the journalist wrote.

He explained that the production of shale oil in the US can stay profitable at lower prices than before. What is more important, it can be suspended and resumed as needed for relatively little.

"So even if the Saudis succeed in forcing them into hibernation, they should still be able to wake up in time to keep prices from rising to much more than $50-a-barrel," he wrote.

According to O’Brien, the deficit in the Saudi budget has increased to 15 of GDP, and the country cannot afford to spend money to keep oil prices. This is why the government has to switch to austerity measures, but they may not work either.

"In other words, Riyadh really can't afford to keep spending 13 percent of the country's GDP on energy subsidies, but it also can't afford to hurt the economy any more than low oil prices already have," the article read.

Supporters of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest against the execution of Shi'ite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr in Saudi Arabia, during a demonstration in Baghdad January 4, 2016 - Sputnik International
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The key problem is that the Saudi riyal is pegged to the dollar which forces the kingdom to raise interest rates when the US Federal Reserve does. The result is that Saudi Arabia’s currency has gone up against almost every other currency at the same time its economy needs it to lower it. When oil prices rise the national currency should be devaluated, the author noted.

Other oil-dependent countries like Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan have already given up their dollar pegs. This is why markets are beginning to bet that Saudi Arabia will be next.

"You can only defy economic gravity for so long," the author concluded.

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