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Oil price volatility has been highly criticized on many fronts, from the top-level official to the average consumer. Authorities for both producing and consuming nations have called for mechanisms to restore order to a chaotic market.The author traces the development of petroleum commodity markets, then examines the quest by producers and consumers for stability in world oil markets. He finds that modest producer and consumer gains can be realized through negotiations that achieve removal of barriers to trade, elimination of hurdles to foreign investment, and strengthening of financial institutions.Verleger reviews previous attempts to stabilize price fluctuations of other commodities and finds that these efforts have invariably failed. He argues that the very size of the oil market makes it unlikely that an effort to stabilize oil prices would succeed. Moreover, he shows that an oil price stabilization agreement would impose large costs on consumers.
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