OPEC nations had their most profitable half-a-year ever. According to the FT, "Members of the Saudi Arabia-led oil exporters' cartel took home $645bn (£335bn, €430bn) between January and June." That number could get even better in the second half.
OPEC may be doing exceedingly well and it may be building huge sovereign funds to invest in crippled financial companies in the US and EU, but it is taking on a substantial risk.
OPEC has kept is production fairly flat. The organization has done very little to abate the run-up in oil prices. That run-up has been the one of the two or three largest contributors to a slowdown of economies in the West.
A full-blown and deep economic recession is likely to spread from the West to China and India. If the US consumer cannot afford much beyond his mortgage, gas, and food, imports will suffer, perhaps substantially. Falling demand for imports in the US could spread to the energy-hungry countries of the developing world. In other words, demand for crude could collapse as demand for exports falters.
A sharp drop in oil demand could do terrific harm to the pace at which OPEC takes in cash. Record income may seem good for now, but it could drive very unpleasant and unintended consequences.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 247wallst.com.