Category Archives: Australia

Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

TPP :: The treaty from hell

Obama’s Secret Treaty Would Be The Most Important Step Toward A One World Economic System

By Michael Snyder, on November 12th, 2014

Barack Obama is secretly negotiating the largest international trade agreement in history, and the mainstream media in the United States is almost completely ignoring it.  If this treaty is adopted, it will be the most important step toward a one world economic system that we have ever seen.  The name of this treaty is “the Trans-Pacific Partnership”, and the text of the treaty is so closely guarded that not even members of Congress know what is in it.  Right now, there are 12 countries that are part of the negotiations: the United States, Canada, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  These nations have a combined population of 792 million people and account for an astounding 40 percent of the global economy.  And it is hoped that the EU, China and India will eventually join as well.  This is potentially the most dangerous economic treaty of our lifetimes, and yet there is very little political debate about it in this country.

Even though Congress is not being allowed to see what is in the treaty, Barack Obama wants Congress to give him fast track negotiating authority.  What that means is that Congress would essentially trust Obama to negotiate a good treaty for us.  Congress could vote the treaty up or down, but would not be able to amend or filibuster it.

Of course now the Republicans control both houses of Congress.  If they are foolish enough to blindly give Barack Obama so much power, they should all immediately resign.

And it is critical that people understand that this is not just an economic treaty.  It is basically a gigantic end run around Congress.  Thanks to leaks, we have learned that so many of the things that Obama has deeply wanted for years are in this treaty.  If adopted, this treaty will fundamentally change our laws regarding Internet freedom, healthcare, copyright and patent protection, food safety, environmental standards, civil liberties and so much more.  This treaty includes many of the rules that alarmed Internet activists so much when SOPA was being debated, it would essentially ban all “Buy American” laws, it would give Wall Street banks much more freedom to trade risky derivatives and it would force even more domestic manufacturing offshore.

In other words, it is the treaty from hell.

In addition to imposing Obama’s vision for the world on 40 percent of the global population, it is also being described as a “Christmas wish-list for major corporations”.  Of the 29 chapters in the treaty, only five of them actually deal with economic issues.  The rest of the treaty deals with a whole host of other issues of great importance to the global elite.

The following list of issues addressed by this treaty is from a Malaysian news source

• domestic court decisions and international legal standards (e.g., overriding domestic laws on both trade and nontrade matters, foreign investors’ right to sue governments in international tribunals that would overrule the national sovereignty)

• environmental regulations (e.g., nuclear energy, pollution, sustainability)

• financial deregulation (e.g., more power and privileges to the bankers and financiers)

• food safety (e.g., lowering food self-sufficiency, prohibition of mandatory labeling of genetically modified products, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) or mad cow disease)

• Government procurement (e.g., no more buy locally produced/grown)

• Internet freedom (e.g., monitoring and policing user activity)

• labour (e.g., welfare regulation, workplace safety, relocating domestic jobs abroad)

• patent protection, copyrights (e.g., decrease access to affordable medicine)

• public access to essential services may be restricted due to investment rules (e.g., water, electricity, and gas)

Why can’t we get this type of reporting in the United States?

And if this treaty is ultimately approved by Congress, we will essentially be stuck with it forever.

This treaty is written in such a way that the United States will be permanently bound by all of the provisions and will never be able to alter them unless all of the other countries agree.

Are you starting to understand why this treaty is so dangerous?

This treaty is the key to Obama’s “legacy”.  He wants to impose his will upon 40 percent of the global population in a way that will never be able to be overturned.

Of course Obama is touting this treaty as the path to economic recovery.  He promises that it will greatly increase global trade, decrease tariffs and create more jobs for American workers.

But instead, it would be a major step toward destroying what is left of the U.S. economy.

Over the past several decades, every time a major trade agreement has been signed we have seen even more good jobs leave the United States.

And it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why this is happening.  If corporations can move jobs to the other side of the planet to nations where it is legal to pay slave labor wages, they will make larger profits.

Just think about it.  If you were running a corporation and you had the choice of paying workers ten dollars an hour or one dollar an hour, which would you choose?

Plus there are so many other costs, taxes and paperwork hassles when you deal with American workers.  For example, big corporations will not have to provide Obamacare for their foreign workers.  That alone will represent a huge savings.

Any basic course in economics will teach you that labor flows from markets where labor costs are high to markets where labor costs are lower.  And at this point it costs less to make almost everything overseas.  As a result, we have already lost millions upon millions of good jobs, and countless small and mid-size U.S. companies have been forced to shut down because they cannot compete with foreign manufacturers.

Later this month, consumers will flock to retail stores for “Black Friday” deals.  But if you look carefully at those products, you will find that almost all of them are made overseas.  We buy far, far more from the rest of the world than they buy from us, and that is a recipe for national economic suicide.

We consume far more wealth that we produce, and anyone with half a brain can see that is not sustainable in the long run.  The only way that we have been able to maintain our high standard of living is by going into insane amounts of debt.  We are currently living in the largest debt bubble in the history of the planet, and at some point the party is going to end.

Please share this article with as many people as you can.  We need to inform people about what Obama is trying to do.

If Obama is successful in ramming this secret treaty through, it is going to do incalculable damage to what is left of the once great U.S. economy.

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Investors hit the brakes on resources projects

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Adam Creighton
From: The Australian
November 29, 2012 12:00AM

RESOURCES investors are increasingly scrapping tentative investment plans and cost blowouts are artificially inflating Australia’s resource pipeline, a new report reveals.

Although the total value of committed resource projects rose a little to $268 billion in October, the number of committed projects fell to 87 from 98 six months earlier, the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics said yesterday in its six-monthly update of Australia’s investment pipeline.

“The increase is primarily a result of the approval of a second train for the Australia Pacific LNG project and cost increases to projects that were already under way,” the bureau said.

Eleven “mega projects”, costing more than $5bn each — mainly liquefied natural gas facilities such as the Gorgon, Ichthys and Wheatsone projects — account for three-quarters of all committed investments.

Only 10 projects worth $13.2bn progressed to the “committed stage” of development, compared with 21 projects worth $45bn in the six months to April.

“Even on the most conservative estimate provided by the bureau, the total potential investment in the resource sector sits at a mammoth $650bn,” Wayne Swan said, pointing out the OECD’s remarks earlier this week that mining in Australia should “continue to expand vigorously” next year, based on current plans.

The bureau said the total committed expenditure on Australia’s oil and gas projects was “comparable to the total cost of the Apollo moon program in 2012 prices”.

But concerns about the longevity of Australia’s resource boom, which intensified earlier this year after BHP’s decision to shelve its multi-billion-dollar Olympic Dam project in South Australia, and Fortescue Metals Group’s decision to retrench 1000 workers in Western Australia, are still worrying investors, who cancelled 18 projects in the very preliminary stages of development in the six months to October.

“The decrease in the number of projects is attributable to the removal of projects that have not progressed as scheduled and because information could not be sourced that confirmed a clear intention to progress to development,” the bureau said.

Nevertheless, more than 170 projects worth about $290bn — mainly coal and gas projects slated for Queensland — remain in the “feasibility stage”, having passed commercial viability tests.

“Due to restrictions on exploration and production, there have been few uranium projects progressing along the investment pipeline,” the bureau added, although it pointed to regulatory changes that should improve their prospects.

Separate data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed the value of construction completed over the three months to September rose 1.7 per cent to $51.3bn, and increase underpinned almost entirely by engineering construction work.

Source

Total Selects AGR’s RMR for Exploration Offshore Australia

TOTAL E&P Australia (Total) has signed up to use AGR’s Riserless Mud Recovery (RMR®) system.  The contract is for two exploration wells to be drilled over the next year in the Browse Basin off North West Australia.

Bernt Eikemo, AGR’s Vice President of the Enhanced Drilling Solutions (EDS) division (Asia Pacific), said: “AGR is delighted to be part of Total’s drilling team during the forthcoming exploration campaign. We hope that this is the start of a long, successful relationship with Total E&P Australia.”

He added: “Our previous experiences with several operators in the Browse Basin and the North West Shelf have shown that unconsolidated sand formations become much more benign when drilled with RMR® using a proper mud system.”

RMR® has been used by Total on several other projects internationally but this is the first time that the operator has used the system in Australia.

The main reason for using RMR® on these wells is to be able to drill through the unconsolidated sands of the Grebe Formation. It is renowned for stuck-pipe problems when drilling riserless using seawater and sweeps.

RMR® (system example attached) enables the use of weighted, engineered mud in the top-hole section. All mud and cuttings are returned to the rig with no discharge to the seabed. The top-hole section can be drilled more safely, quickly and with less impact on the environment.

RMR®, together with its sister technology the Cutting Transportation System (CTS™), has been deployed on more than 500 wells worldwide to date.

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Ex-Im Bank Provides USD 2.95 Billion Loan to Australia Pacific LNG Project

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The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $2.95 billion direct loan to support U.S. exports to the Australia Pacific liquefied natural gas (LNG) project.

The transaction is Ex-Im’s second-largest single-project financing in history and is also the Bank’s first LNG project in Australia.

The project on Curtis Island in south-central Queensland will produce natural gas from coal-seam wells and will have total capacity of nine million metric tons per year. China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (Sinopec) and Kansai Electric Power Co. Inc. of Japan will purchase most of the LNG produced. China Ex-Im Bank and commercial lenders are also providing debt financing for the project.

Ex-Im’s financing is expected to support an estimated 11,000 American jobs. Principal U.S. exporters are ConocoPhillips Co. and Bechtel International, both of Houston, Texas. Additional exporters and suppliers include numerous small businesses in Texas, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon and Oklahoma.

Our authorization paves the way for U.S. companies to export equipment and services to this major LNG project and, in so doing, to maintain thousands of American jobs across the country,” said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. “This financing also demonstrates how the United States and China can work together for our mutual benefit to foster trade and develop critically needed energy resources.”

The transaction, approved by Ex-Im’s board of directors on May 3, was announced following Chairman Hochberg’s trip to China, where he participated in the fourth round of the Strategic and Economic Development Dialogue (S&ED) with Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner and other officials. The S&ED was held in Beijing on May 3-4.

Bechtel official Jay C. Farrar, who manages the company’s office in Washington, D.C., cited the importance of Ex-Im’s financing for U.S. exporters to large international projects. “Since 1992, Ex-Im Bank has been instrumental in the successful awarding and completion of projects involving Bechtel that have supported thousands of jobs for highly skilled employees at our company. The Bank’s financing also has helped to maintain thousands of additional jobs related to the supply chain for these projects,” Farrar said.

The Australia Pacific LNG project will involve development of coal-seam natural-gas fields, two gas transmission lines to a collection hub, a natural gas liquefaction plant and an adjacent marine shipping export terminal on Curtis Island near the city of Gladstone.

Source

Atwood Osprey Rig Stays with Chevron in Australia Until 2017

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Chevron Australia Pty Ltd has decided to extend the contract for the semisubmersible rig Atwood Osprey for three more years

The Atwood Osprey, owned by the international drilling contractor Atwood Oceanics, started its first three year drilling services contract with Chevron on May 27, 2011 for operations offshore Australia inclusive of the Greater Gorgon field development project. With this contract extension, the Atwood Osprey is now committed through May 2017.

The operating day rate for the initial three year period remains unchanged. The operating day rate at the start of the extension period is estimated to be approximately $470,000, exclusive of the total cost escalation adjustments which occur during the initial term and will be additive to the operating day rate during the extension period. The contract provisions during the extension period provide for continued annual cost escalation adjustments, enhanced rig equipment maintenance and repair time allowances, and other adjustments to the initial contract’s terms and conditions.

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Australia: Shell Completes Tortilla Survey

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Octanex has been advised by Shell Development (Australia) Pty Ltd (Shell) that it has completed acquisition of the new Tortilla 2D seismic survey in the WA-385-P permit.

The Tortilla survey is a relatively small 783 km 2D marine seismic survey that fulfils the final work commitment for the WA-385-P permit in the current term. It was acquired off the North West Cape of Western Australia, largely within the area of the WA-385-P permit.

The survey also acquired ‘tie lines’ between the planned location for the Palta-1 well (to be drilled in the WA-384-P permit to the north) and previously drilled wells Herdsman-1 and Pendock-1A to the south and Falcone-1A to the north-east.

The acquisition of the Tortilla 2D survey was timed to avoid the humpback whale migration and took place over the last 10 days of March. As part of a range of management measures, Shell elected that the seismic survey would not come within a 10 km buffer zone to the outer boundary of the Ningaloo World Heritage Area.

Shell has committed to drill the Palta-1 exploration well in the WA-384-P permit and has received environmental approval for the drilling operations. The WA-384-P permit is adjacent to WA-385-P where the Tortilla 2D seismic survey was acquired.

Shell has advised that drilling operations on Palta-1 are being planned for Q3 2012, subject to their receiving all required regulatory approvals. The well is to be drilled in water depths of approximately 1350m and to a total depth of 5325m – 5675m. The Octanex Group originally held 100% of the WA-384-P, WA-385-P and WA-394-P permits that are located in the southern Exmouth Sub-basin.

In 2008,  Octanex concluded an agreement with Shell for the disposition of a 100% working interest in each of the three permits. Octanex holds residual rights in each of the permits in the form of discovery payments and a 1% royalty over any production from the permits, as well as rights of re- conveyance.

Source

INPEX Orders USD 2 bln FPSO from DSME (South Korea)

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The second largest shipbuilder in the world, Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering, Co, announces that it has received an order to construct a giant Floating Production Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO).

The order comes from a Japanese oil giant, INPEX and is a part of the company’s Ichthys project, offshore Australia.

Daewoo made the announcement on the Korea Exchange, saying that the estimated worth of the project is $2 billion.

The FPSO will serve for offshore storage and export of condensate from the Ichthys field. The condensate will be transferred from the CPF to the FPSO and, further, it will be exported from the FPSO via a floating loading hose to offtake tankers.

The vessel will also treat and dispose of produced water. It will be located approximately 2 km from the Central Processing Facilitiy and will contain liquid (condensate and water) treatment facilities, living quarters and associated utilities.

South Korea’s shipbuilders have benefited greatly from the INPEX’s Ichthys project. Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd has recently received a $2.71 billion order for the construction of an offshore central processing facility (CPF) for the Ichthys project.

Source

Worst oil crisis could lie just ahead

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David Uren, Senior Economics Correspondent
From: The Australian
March 05, 2012 12:00AM

THE threat of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities has pushed world oil prices up by 15 per cent in the past month and raised fears that the fissile geopolitics of the Middle East might once again spell global economic havoc.

Israel believes Iran’s nuclear program is approaching a point of no return beyond which it would be impossible to prevent it developing nuclear weapons.

US President Barack Obama is expected to press Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to defer action in talks in Washington today, to give time for sanctions to have full effect.

Facing an election in November and enjoying the first rays of economic sunshine since the 2008 global financial crisis, Obama does not need a Middle East war and soaring oil prices.

However, there is a strong push in Israel for military action.

“If we do not stop Iran now, later on it will be impossible,” Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says.

Israel, which is understood to have its own nuclear weapons, sees a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat.

Saudi Arabia has indicated it would seek nuclear capability if Iran achieved it, adding further uncertainty to the stability of the world’s richest oil region.

The next three months are the most likely time for an attack as Iranian skies are clearest during the northern spring.

Iran has declared it will close the Strait of Hormuz as a first point of retaliation for any Israeli raid.

The strait is the seaway through which the oil of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Iran and the United Arab Emirates is shipped.

Giant oil tankers carrying 18 million barrels of oil every day travel down the 10km-wide outbound shipping channel. This represents a quarter of the world’s oil supply and 40 per cent of seaborne oil trade.

If Iran could block the strait, it would represent a greater disruption to the world’s supplies than those that followed the 1973 oil embargo after the Yom Kippur war, the 1978 Iranian revolution, the 1980 Iraq-Iran conflict or the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

The International Monetary Fund has warned that the world is ill-prepared for a new oil crisis. In a paper prepared for last weekend’s G20 finance ministers’ meeting in Mexico and released on Friday, the IMF said developed countries had run down their emergency stocks while spare capacity in the OPEC countries was no more than average.

“A halt of Iran’s exports to OECD economies without offset from other sources could trigger an initial oil price increase of around 20-30 per cent,” the fund said. “A sustained blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would lead to a much stronger and unprecedented disruption of global oil supply.”

The Australian government is expressing confidence that a crisis could be managed; however, the scale of the turmoil that would flow from a Hormuz Strait closure would far exceed the government’s contingency planning.

The shock from soaring oil prices would also undermine the emerging hopes for a global economic recovery, damaging consumer and business confidence and depressing the terms of trade for oil-importing nations.

Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told The Australian that any reduction of oil throughput in the Strait of Hormuz would inevitably affect global supply.

“The possible impact on Australia will depend on a range of factors, including the length of disruption.”

He said the national energy security assessment completed last year had established that the security of Australia’s supplies of liquid fuels was “robust, with resilience enabling the market to adjust to meet demand in the event of temporary global shocks”.

However, the Australian government is as politically exposed to a new oil crisis as is the Obama administration. Already, the rising oil price is feeding the Coalition’s argument that Australia can ill afford to be introducing carbon taxes.

It will put increasing pressure on the cost of living.

If rising prices turn into a full-blown oil crisis over the next few months, the case for abandoning the introduction of the July 1 start-up for the carbon tax would become overwhelming.

Australia is far more vulnerable to an oil crisis than the level of direct imports from the Middle East would suggest.

Australia’s oil refineries, which still supply 70 per cent of domestic petroleum products, depend on the Middle East for barely 15 per cent of their crude oil supplies.

Domestic oil wells, mostly in Bass Strait, supply 20 per cent, while the balance comes from more than 20 nations including Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Nigeria and New Zealand.

However, Australia also imports 30 per cent of its refined petroleum products, mostly from Singapore, which depends on the Middle East for more than 80 per cent of its supplies.

The Australian government conducted a review of its energy security late last year. The consulting firm ACIL Tasman modelled a supply disruption in which Singapore’s refineries were out of action for 30 days, depriving the region of 1.4 million barrels a day of production.

This would be similar to the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which knocked out Gulf of Mexico oil production and US oil refining in 2005.

One of the study’s authors, Alan Smart, says the shortfall pushed up prices but this was sufficient to close the gap, with demand falling and new supplies becoming available.

“When the price spiked, the market responded very quickly with the gap filled within six days.”

The study concluded that the same could be expected were Australia to lose access to Singapore supplies, with spare capacity elsewhere in Asia quickly brought onstream.

The study found that although prices would rise by 18 per cent, there would be no interruption to economic activity in Australia.

Smart cautions, however, that a localised or regional supply problem such as a refinery shutdown, may be very different from the results of a war in the Middle East.

Singapore analyst with the oil research company Wood Mackenzie Sushant Gupta says that scenarios for a closure of the strait show a major impact on oil supplies throughout the Asian region.

“There is a high dependency on Middle East crude, not just in Singapore, with some economies taking more than 90 per cent of their crude from there.”

Gupta says the spare capacity in the Asian refining industry would be of no use to Australia if the refineries could not get access to crude supplies.

Moreover, countries throughout the region would be principally concerned to secure their own domestic supplies. Countries such as South Korea, which import petroleum but export refined products would divert more of their output to their own market.

Exports from countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia could also fall, at least as a short-term response.

Gupta says that in the event of shortages, Australia would suffer from being at the greatest distance from the regional refineries.

“All the Asian countries will be competing for the same barrels of produce from Singapore. The premium on the products will increase and the countries closest physically to Singapore will have the advantage due to freight.”

Gupta said there would be no additional supplies coming forward to meet shortfalls from Singapore, so it would be up to the market, with a spike in prices, to reduce demand.

So, although Australia currently draws the bulk of its supplies from non-Middle East supplies, the reality is that it is self-sufficient for only 20 per cent of supplies, and the market’s ability to supply the rest would be tested by an extended blockade in the Gulf.

An immediate response would be the drawdown of emergency supplies kept by all nations that are members of the International Energy Agency.

The IEA was established among oil importing countries in the wake of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo and requires all members to keep a minimum of 90 days’ supplies.

In Australia’s case, the reserves are held by the major oil companies as part of their normal commercial operations. The steady slide in Australia’s domestic oil supply has meant that Australia’s reserves are falling short of the requirement, currently standing at 88 days.

ACIL-Tasman warns that the shortfall is likely to increase over coming years; however, it is not enough to make a meaningful difference to Australia’s ability to withstand a crisis.

Ferguson retains sweeping powers under the Liquid Fuels Emergency Act to order the oil companies to give priority to essential fuel users in the event that the nation were confronted with physical fuel shortages.

It is not certain that Iran would succeed in an effort to block the strait, despite the total width of the waterway narrowing to 40km.

Many tankers were sunk during the Iran-Iraq war in the early 1980s; however, shipping technology has greatly advanced since then.

Although modern ships ostensibly make a much larger target, carrying as much as two million barrels of oil each, they are divided into sealed compartments with double-hulls and are much harder to stop or sink, even than warships.

US analysis finds that an attack on one of these vessels by three anti-ship cruise missiles would have only a 12 per cent chance of stopping it.

The same research project found Iran would have to sow a minefield with more than 1000 advanced mines, a task that would take several months, to disrupt shipping, and that would succeed in disabling only half a dozen ships.

The head of the US joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey, has said Iran would have the capacity to block the strait, but only for a short period.

“We’ve invested in capabilities to ensure that if that happens, we can defeat that.”

The US Fifth Fleet, stationed on the other side of the Persian Gulf in Bahrain, including more than 20 ships including aircraft carriers, could overwhelm the sort of “small suicide boat” attacks which the US believes Iran is planning and provides a credible support to tanker fleet.

American oil researcher Amy Myers Jaffe says it would be difficult for Iran to stop the flow of oil from the Arabian Gulf for long, if at all.

What is beyond doubt, however, is that the moment Israeli aircraft start bombing Iran, the oil price will jump. It has already risen from about $US105 a barrel to $US125 since the start of the year.

The impact on Australia has been diluted by the strength of our currency, which means wholesale petrol prices have risen by only 5.5 per cent this year, but further rises are in prospect.

An analysis by Barclays Capital suggests the oil price would rise to $US150 to $US200 a barrel in the event of an attack; however, estimates are imprecise.

As well as the loss of supply, there would be additional demand from buyers seeking precautionary stocks.

Westpac’s head of international economics, Huw McKay says the world economy remains vulnerable to oil price spikes and adds this was shown in the first half of last year when the Arab Spring pushed oil prices higher.

“That put a spanner in the works for the United States economy at a time when it had finished calendar 2010 with a bit of an upswing. When it ran into the high oil prices and then the Japanese tsunami, the US had a very underwhelming first half year.”

Mr McKay says the situation is similar, with consumers beginning to show a revival in demand. “What the US consumer doesn’t need is a fuel tax hitting them.”

The jump in petrol prices both damages consumer spending and causes an exodus from US motor vehicle industry.

Higher oil prices will also damage the economies of Asia. In several Asian economies, including India and Indonesia, government subsidies to petrol means that rising fuel prices results in a loss of control over the budget.

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