Update April 30, 2008: Iran dumps U.S. dollar for oil trades – “Iran, OPEC’s second-largest producer, has stopped conducting oil transactions in U.S. dollars.”
In the last eight years implementing the plans for the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) designed “to promote American global leadership” has backfired.
To accomplish PNAC’s goals, all threats needed to be eliminated. From the onset, the United Sates earmarked two countries as mortal enemies: Venezuela and Iran. With Venezuela, it is well documented that the CIA attempted to overthrow the democratically elected government of Chavez. And with Iran, the United States continues to use it as a scapegoat for its failures in Iraq. These cold war tactics however are proving to be US’s undoing.
The United States is hemorrhaging from every orifice, and oil prices can be used to measure the rapidity of its demise.
In April 2006, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez launched “a bid to transform the global politics of oil by seeking a deal with consumer countries which would lock in a price of $50 a barrel.” At the time, this proposed price was $15 a barrel below global market levels, and what must surely seems to be a steal at the current $118 a barrel.
How critical was the decision not to take Chavez’s proposal seriously? Just two short years later, in April 2008, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran is stating that oil at current levels is too cheap. That’s calling a 136% increase in price not enough, and most analysis and the market seem to agree. So what has changed in that time? The perceived value of the US dollar of course.
US dollar versus euro
In 1999 the euro was introduced as an accounting currency (travelers’ checks, electronic transfers, banking, etc.) and then launched as physical coins and banknotes on 1 January 2002. The euro replaced the former European Currency Unit (ECU) at a ratio of 1:1. However its value quickly began to drop, reaching a low of 0.8252 relative to the US dollar on 26 October 2000. This proved to be a solid support level for the next two years, and in 2002 the euro began its appreciation reaching a high of 1.60 as of 23 April 2008.
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Aside from consolidating power for the new European Union, the euro added liquidity and flexibility to the financial markets which in time has made the euro a very attractive and safe investment as a major global reserve currency.
As of the beginning of 2007, within five short years, euro notes in circulation have exceeded the value of circulating US dollar notes. Considering that the dollar has been devalued by approximately 50% since reaching its high relative to the euro in 2000 (the euro has gained approximately 100%), we can only assume that according to global markets, the US dollar is losing its perceived value.
Price of oil in US dollars and euros
Oil prices had a recent low point in January 1999 at $8 per barrel, after “increased oil production from Iraq coincided with the Asian financial crisis, which reduced demand. The prices then rapidly increased, more than tripling by September 2000 (35 dollars per barrel), then fell until the end of 2001 before steadily increasing.”
1999 is the same year that the euro was introduced as an accounting currency. By the time that the euro was launched as physical coins and banknotes in January 2002, oil was trading at approximately $20 a barrel, and at present, on 23 April 2008, oil is trading at $118 a barrel.
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Let’s compare the rise in the price of oil relative to the two currencies.
If we take Autumn of 2000 as our base point when the euro was trading at its low of 0.8252 relative to the US dollar and oil was trading at $35 dollars per barrel, we get the following results: The increase in price of oil in euros has been 74% since 2000, while it has been a 237% increase in US dollars.
Now let’s take a look at what the increase in price of oil in euros and US dollars has been since April 2006 when Hugo Chávez wanted to lock the price at $50 per barrel. (Note: in April 2006 the euro was trading at approximately 1.22 relative to the US dollar).
Taking into account that the euro had a dramatic increase in value from 2002 to 2005, and then began a retraction period through to 2006, the above numbers confirm what Ahmadinejad has been stating, that “the dollar is not money any longer but a handful of paper distributed in the world without commodity support,” and that oil is undervalued at present levels when priced in US petrodollars.