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Oil is back

Banner headlines in the press proclaimed the news that oil prices had soared by $3.50 to a level of $31 a barrel, on the day that the Twin Towers were attacked. So-called experts predicted that oil might even rise to as much as $40 a barrel. So should we all rush out and buy oil shares?

Before taking the plunge, take a look at oil prices over recent years. In the first oil crisis of 1973, following the oil embargo on the West after the Yom Kippur war, oil soared from $10 to $37 a barrel - and that is equal to $170 in today's terms.

In the second crisis of 1979 (the Iranian revolution) oil leaped to $41 a barrel, which is the equivalent of $100 a barrel today. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, oil prices jumped to $40 a barrel - $60 today.

So maybe oil will return to center stage and the price will rise to $100 or even $170? There is one big difference between then and now. Today the OPEC cartel of oil producers controls only 40 percent of the world's oil supply. The West has invested heavily in the North Sea and discovered oil there. Many countries have switched to nuclear power or natural gas, and are using oil more efficiently and saving more, so that today there is actually an excess supply of oil.

There is also an unwritten agreement between OPEC and the U.S. that keeps oil fluctuating between $22 and $28 a barrel, with Saudi Arabia - and the large excess supply capacity that it has and could use to manipulate the price - a party to the deal. So after seeing the mayhem that broke out in one terrible day, we watched oil drop back to $28 a barrel on the morrow, so whoever did rush out to buy oil lost.

The Jewish angle

When it became clear that the first plane to crash into the tower was at 8:45 A.M. and the second at 9:03 A.M., there were many that found some consolation in knowing that New Yorkers start working at 9 A.M. and that there was a chance, given lateness, hold-ups, traffic jams, that maybe the towers were relatively empty and the number of victims would be lower. In the middle of the day, the Twin Towers hold around 50,000 workers and several thousand more visitors.

It now transpires that the buildings were not completely full, and the number of tourists was not at its peak, but we are talking about the heart of the Wall Street district, the financial capital of the U.S., and the buildings housed leading international companies, brokerages and investment banks such as Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Cantor Fitzgerald. These are companies that trade around the clock, where the traditional nine-to-five working day has little meaning; so the majority of the victims are likely to be from that financial sector. It is known that many Jews work in these companies.