Venezia, Università Ca’ Foscari, Sala Berengo
This conference is organized in the framework of the FIRB Project 2010 The Engines of Growth. Ideally it is the follow-up to our 2013 conference “Pivotal Year: the 1973 Oil Shock and its Global Significance”, which highlighted the wide systemic significance of the rise in oil prices, forty years after 1973. The “countershock” of 1985-86 has not received the same degree of attention on the part of historians. Both the fall of oil prices and its consequences in terms of winners and losers have traditionally been seen as the result of the work of the “magic of the marketplace”: in terms of the energy paradigm, the non-fossil alternatives simply proved non-competitive; in terms of international relations, the previous attempt on the part of oil producing countries to exploit their oligopoly proved self-defeating because high prices had only allowed more countries to drill and produce. Three decades later, however, such an explanation can be tested against a set of questions: Was the confirmation of the centrality of oil in the world energy panorama the consequence of the downfall of prices or could the reverse be (also) true? Did perceptions of “geopolitical stakes” being involved in the changes in oil prices play any role in the behavior of any of the actors involved (producing countries, consuming countries, international organizations)? What was the role, if any, of private businesses and collective movements in re-establishing the centrality of oil and its low price? What was, finally, the relationship between the oil countershock and the triumph of the Reagan-Thatcher “neoliberal” counterrevolution? The conference aims at answering such questions by taking a fresh and multidisciplinary look at the events. During three days of open debate we hope to be able to produce a more nuanced picture of both the origins and the consequences of the oil countershock.
Available (small) scholarships to contribute to the travel expenses of young researchers: http://virgo.unive.it/eog/?p=2437.