Video: The Story Behind Oil’s Plunge
In the financial markets, everything makes sense in hindsight. While the narrative had continued since the 2008 Financial Crisis that energy prices were rising and there was nothing to slow them down, it only took a small crack in the armour to send oil tumbling down by about 50% since the 2014 summer peak.
This infographic video from CNN Money helps put the sudden and inevitable oil plunge in perspective. In short, it is a combination of slowing demand (stemming from China’s growth slowdown, the EU’s stagnation, and America shaking off its addiction to oil) and oversupply caused by new shale technology and OPEC keeping production constant.
Lower oil prices create some relief for consumers at the pump, but also create their own array of problems. Losses of jobs, especially around more expensive shale and oil sand production, will partly counterbalance the gains from the additional $60 billion in consumer discretionary income in 2015. Energy companies also struggle at such prices.
Another big risk is geopolitical. Many political analysts have suggested that crashing oil prices put Putin between a rock and a hard place. Crushed oil prices give Putin a crude problem to deal with, as the Russian budget breakeven point is around $102/bbl. The ruble has already felt the pain, and Putin must now either allow the Russian economy to slowly crumble, or double up on his aggressive bets from a foreign policy perspective to continue to win the hearts of Russian sentiment.
Mapped: The Top Middle East Exports by Country
It’s more than just oil. This map of Middle East exports shows the top global product of each country by value.
Mapped: The Top Middle East Exports by Country
The Middle East is widely recognized for its significant role in the global energy market. However, countries in the region also foster other substantial industries, including metals, chemicals, and agriculture.
The graphic above uses 2021 exports data from The Observatory of Economic Complexity to help explain the economy of the Middle East.
Top Exports by Middle-Eastern Countries in 2021
In 2021, the Middle East’s exports reached a total value of $1.27 trillion. While the region lags behind Asia, Europe, and North America in global exports, it outpaces Africa and South America.
Despite many countries undertaking efforts to diversify their economies and reduce their oil dependence, most of the exports still come from fossil fuels.
|Country||Top Export (2021)||Top Export Value||Total Exports Value|
|🇦🇪 UAE||Crude petroleum||$58.5B||$296.0B|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||Crude petroleum||$138.0B||$256.0B|
|🇶🇦 Qatar||Petroleum gas||$57.2B||$94.7B|
|🇮🇶 Iraq||Crude petroleum||$72.0B||$81.1B|
|🇰🇼 Kuwait||Crude petroleum||$40.1B||$58.2B|
|🇴🇲 Oman||Crude petroleum||$24.2B||$56.9B|
|🇪🇬 Egypt||Refined petroleum||$4.8B||$44.5B|
|🇧🇭 Bahrain||Refined petroleum||$4.3B||$15.0B|
|🇮🇷 Iran||Ethylene polymers||$3.2B||$14.0B|
|🇯🇴 Jordan||Potassic fertilizers||$1.2B||$12.0B|
|🇾🇪 Yemen||Crude petroleum||$1.1B||$2.0B|
|🇵🇸 Palestine||Building stone||$0.2B||$1.5B|
|🇸🇾 Syria||Pure olive oil||$0.1B||$1.0B|
The Middle East accounts for one-third of global oil production, producing over 30 million barrels per day. Five of the world’s top 10 oil producers are located in the region.
But some countries like Türkiye show off more diverse economies. The country’s exports range from minerals to machinery and textiles, with cars as its top export. The country is actually one of the world’s top automotive exporters.
Israel is another of the Middle East’s most diverse economies. The country’s major exports encompass electronics, software, and refined petroleum, but cut diamonds rank as the country’s largest single export by value.
Iran has tapped into its ample reserves of oil and natural gas in a different way, becoming a significant producer of plastics. Presently, plastics and rubbers constitute one-quarter of Iran’s exports.
How the Middle East Impacts the Global Economy
Given that the oil sector is one of the most significant in the global economy in terms of both volume and transaction value, many Middle Eastern countries are substantial players in international politics.
Nations such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE have direct impact on the oil market and play a pivotal role in determining the price of the commodity.
Due to the region’s massive exports (and imports of goods), and the importance of oil and gas in goods manufacturing worldwide, regional conflicts by Middle Eastern countries also impact global markets directly.
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