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The Countries Suffering Most From Low Oil Prices

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Final Story

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The Countries Suffering Most From Low Oil Prices

As Warren Buffet says, “Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

And in 2014, when oil prices crashed and burned, the tide was gone – and it was shown that too many countries were relying on frothy oil revenues to balance out their trade deficits.

A Lingering Crisis

Fast forward to today, and low oil prices are still causing big problems for many countries. The above interactive visualization from the Council of Foreign Relations shows how the world economies most reliant on oil exports have fared since the 2014 crash.

The end results are not pretty – and even in 2016, there were 18 economies that had breakeven prices (based on spending on imports) that were above the average oil price for the year:

Country2016 Breakeven Price (Based on Imports)Difference from Avg. Oil Price
Libya$134.10-$91.29
Turkmenistan$132.00-$89.19
Colombia$102.30-$59.49
Algeria$101.10-$58.29
Bahrain$92.30-$49.49
Oman$86.80-$43.99
Chad$86.20-$43.39
Qatar$67.00-$24.19
Kazakhstan$64.10-$21.29
Gabon$60.50-$17.69
Trinidad & Tobago$60.20-$17.39
Brunei$58.50-$15.69
Venezuela$54.40-$11.59
Iraq$51.90-$9.09
Saudi Arabia$51.80-$8.99
Azerbaijan$50.90-$8.09
Angola$50.30-$7.49
Nigeria$43.50-$0.69

The oil price crash made many oil-reliant economies more fragile, and this fragility can be triggered in different ways. One interesting case study is Venezuela, which is currently embroiled in an ongoing economic, currency, and humanitarian crisis.

Bad Timing for Maduro

During the Hugo Chávez era, sky-high oil prices enabled fiscal and trade policies that subsidized Venezuelan life in many ways. That all changed in 2014, which was only one year after Nicolás Maduro took office.

Despite having largely the same policies as his predecessor, low oil prices have hammered the Venezuelan economy. Even with today’s prices, oil generates an estimated 95% of export revenues for the country. This has resulted in a disaster for the socialist nation, and Venezuela is now stuck with shortages in essential goods, crushing unemployment, a contracting economy, skyrocketing crime and murder rates, and even widespread malnutrition.

At the root of much of this, arguably, is an uncontrollable cycle of hyperinflation:

Venezuelan hyperinflation of the bolivar

With an economy that is a runaway train, the government prints more and more cash to try to maintain the status quo. This almost never works, and last year it even led us to publish a chart comparing Venezuelan hyperinflation with that of Weimar Germany.

According to DolarToday.com, a website that tracks the black market rate for Venezuelan currency, it takes 8,470 bolívars to buy US$1 today. Right before the oil crash this was closer to 65 bolívars.

A Lost Cause

While many oil dependent nations are working to diversify or ride out low oil prices in other ways, it seems unlikely that the crisis in Venezuela will be reversed anytime soon.

Here’s the full fiscal breakeven needed by OPEC producers, including Venezuela, to help normalize things:

Fiscal Breakeven

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Energy

Visualized: The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Visual Capitalist partnered with EnergyX to analyze five major clean energy stocks and explore the factors driving this growth.

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The teaser image shows the growth of clean energy stocks and hints at their cumulative five-year returns.

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The following content is sponsored by EnergyX

The Growth of Clean Energy Stocks

Over the last few years, energy investment trends have shifted from fossil fuels to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Long-term energy investors now see significant returns from clean energy stocks, especially compared to those invested in fossil fuels alone.

For this graphic, Visual Capitalist has collaborated with EnergyX to examine the rise of clean energy stocks and gain a deeper understanding of the factors driving this growth.

Sustainable Energy Stock Performance

In 2023, the IEA reported that 62% of all energy investment went toward sustainable sources. As the world embraces sustainable energy and technologies like EVs, it’s no surprise that clean energy companies provide solid returns for their investors over long periods. 

Taking the top-five clean energy stocks by market cap (as of April 2024) and charting their five-year cumulative returns, it is clear that investments in clean energy are growing:

CompanyPrice: 01/04/2019Price: 12/29/20245-Year-Return %
First Solar, Inc.$46.32$172.28272%
Enphase Energy, Inc.$5.08$132.142,501%
Consolidated Edison, Inc.$76.55$90.9719%
NextEra Energy, Inc.$43.13$60.7441%
Brookfield Renewable Partners$14.78$26.2878%
promotional graphic with a button and wheel that promotes the EnergyX investment site

But how does this compare to the performance of fossil fuel stocks? 

When comparing the performance of the S&P Global Oil Index and the S&P Clean Energy Index between 2019 and 2023, we see that the former returned 15%, whereas the latter returned an impressive 41%. This trend demonstrates the potential for clean energy stocks to yield significant returns on an industry level, sparking optimism and excitement for potential investors. 

A Shift In Returns

With global investment trends moving away from traditional, non-sustainable sources, the companies that could shape the energy transition provide investors with alternative opportunities and avenues for growth. 

One such company is EnergyX. The lithium technology company has patented a groundbreaking technology that can improve lithium extraction rates by an incredible 300%, and its stock price has grown tenfold since its first offering in 2021.

promotional graphic that promotes the EnergyX investment site

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