Opec: A Texan Idea Twice Thought in Venezuela

I grew up among oil geologists and drilling engineers in various oil fields West of the Maracaibo Lake Basin and, later on, in oil-rich Eastern Venezuela.

One day in 1966—I was barely 15—I went into the camp’s chief geologist’s house trailer. This particular camp was in the borders of the Orinoco River delta, a remote tropical region of flooded savannas. My parentswere very fond of this young American geologist who has just got transferred to Nigeria. So my dad sent me to help him carry his personal belongings into the company’s jeep that would take him to a small airstrip some 7 miles away.Behind his desk hung a framed yellowish sheet of paper with a long typewritten quote on it. You had to come near and look up close to read it. It appeared to be some passage of a book but, to this date, I couldnot tell for sure where it came from. It read:

“If I were a barrel of oil, comfortably located in a pool, hidden in a trap deep in the ground, the region that would be safest for me—where I might live out another 50 or 100 million years in peace and dignity—would be in some country where minerals and exploration are nationalized. The reason is that in counties such as these, there is but one hunter, and the chances of eluding him are far better than the chances of being discovered. The most dangerous place for me to live in, as a barrel of oil, would be in the United States where there are thousands of hunters and each has a different weapon” A. I. Levorsen

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Nationalization: The Never Ending Latin American Story (II)

Redistributionism is a spontaneous feeling”, wrote Bertrand de Jouvenel back in 1951.( 2) “This, like so many spontaneous assumptions of the human mind, is an error.” Still,   populist-inspired nationalizations keep coming back to our redistributionist countries with ever growing symbolic and emotional power.

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Nationalization: The Never Ending Latin American Story (I)

Measured up against post-war era “Keynesian goals”, and compared with French and British nationalizations, how much have Latin American nationalizations contributed, if anything, to consumption and investment on the demand side? How productive on the supply side? Have they helped increase employment or ensured conditions for long-term growth? How well have they fared in developing national infrastructure? Have they really improved the export performance of their countries?

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