"If a government can finance itself through the profits on oil, it needn't collect taxes. Let me suggest that this is not a good thing. Taxes create accountability — citizens want to know how the government is spending their money. Substituting oil revenues decouples government from the people. The list of the world's worst-governed countries today features many that are dependent on the production of oil: Nigeria, Angola, Chad, Venezuela, Libya, Equatorial Guinea."
Taxes on oil consumption have long been a legislative third rail, yet concerns about the national debt may soon change that political calculus. Daniel Ahn and Michael Levi demonstrate that energy taxes can reduce the national debt and improve economic performance, all while reducing U.S. oil consumption.
Michael A. Levi says, "The benefits of the oil and gas boom—jobs, wealth and, in the case of natural gas, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions—offer plenty of reasons to continue to develop these resources judiciously. But we should beware of turning this potential blessing into an unintended curse."
Drawing on lessons from a Council on Foreign Relations workshop in January 2012, Blake Clayton and Michael A. Levi examine the connection between global oil markets and international relations, saying that in many cases the oil trade is politically consequential simply because policymakers believe that it is.
With the Middle East unrest ongoing and the global economy recovering, gasoline prices are rising considerably. But policies to ease U.S. consumer impact take time and policymakers are divided over the course of action.
Blake Clayton says what's really behind New York's epic gasoline lines in the wake of Hurricane Sandy is the problem of getting gas and power to gas stations, with panic buying making things all the worse.
Blake Clayton argues that cyber attacks on oil and gas operations are the new face of energy insecurity, with vast potential for crippling effects on global energy prices and nations far beyond the Middle East.
Blake Clayton says Iraq is in a unique position to help take the edge off a global oil market under serious strain, but time will tell whether the country will achieve its lofty goals—or if they will remain a mirage.
Blake Clayton and Greg Sharenow explain how the threat of a Strategic Petroleum Reserve release is a tantalizing tool to influence the oil market and consider whether the White House is the new Federal Reserve of oil.
A recent agremeent between Sudan and South Sudan to restart oil exports is likely to improve the macroeconomic situations of the countries, while paving the way for future negotiations over land disputes, says expert Alex de Waal.
In an article launching a new Forbes.com blog, "Risk and Return,"Blake Clayton says that President Obama, having learned the hard way last year that a Strategic Petroleum Reserve release can't reliably lower oil prices for very long, is likely weighing the potential political costs of a release versus its possible economic benefits.
Blake Clayton argues for greater transparency about the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve's capabilities to release oil to the market, particularly in light of profound recent changes in the North American oil landscape.
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.
The authors argue that it is essential to begin working now to expand and establish rules and norms governing armed drones, thereby creating standards of behavior that other countries will be more likely to follow.
The author examines Pakistan's complex role in U.S. foreign policy and advocates for a two-pronged approach that works to quarantine threats while integrating Pakistan into the broader U.S. agenda in Asia.