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Between October 1973 and January 1974 world oil prices quadrupled. By putting an end to decades of cheap energy, the 1973-74 oil crisis, which was led by Arab members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), exacerbated the economic difficulties facing many industrialized nations, forced developing countries to finance their energy imports through foreign borrowing, and generated large surpluses for oil-exporters.
>The 1973-74 oil crisis followed years of often acrimonious negotiations between members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Western oil companies over petroleum production and pricing levels. Richard Nixon’s decision to take the U.S. off the gold standard in 1971 was of particular importance in contributing to the oil crisis.
Because oil prices were denominated in dollars, the devaluation that accompanied the end of the Bretton Woods monetary regime negatively impacted oil exporting countries and led OPEC officials to consider remedial steps, such as pricing oil in gold instead of dollars. Little came of these efforts until October 1973, when Arab members of OPEC, in response to the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War, raised the posted price of crude by 70% and placed an embargo on exports to the U.S. and other nations allied with Israel.
Although the fighting ended in late October, OPEC continued to use the “oil weapon” over the coming months. In November oil exporters cut production 25% below September levels, and the following month they doubled the price of crude. By January 1974 world oil prices were four times higher than they had been at the start of the crisis.<
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