The slide in oil prices has become a crash
The slide in oil prices has become a crash. Brent crude will start the day at around $70 a barrel, the lowest in more than four years. Exporters are feeling the pain. According to Deutsche Bank, seven of OPEC's 12 members do not balance their budgets when prices are below $100. Nicolas Maduro, president of Venezuela (where oil makes up 96% of exports), is cutting his own salary and reducing public spending. Russia, which is not in OPEC, is in trouble too: oil and gas bring in 70% of its exports and 40% of the federal budget. Saudi Arabia, the biggest exporter, is below break-even but refused to agree to a cut in output at last week's OPEC meeting. The kingdom is spending freely to diversify its economy, but has plenty of cash in reserve. Weak global demand and ample American supplies mean oil exporters can expect little relief soon.