Issue Brief

Recalling the Oil Shock of 40 Years Ago

Dec 19, 2013 | Joel Darmstadter

Key Findings

  • "Commemorative" coverage of the 1970s oil crisis has tended— inaccurately—to conflate the embargo with the dramatic price increase. The two elements differed markedly in substance and effect.
  • Underlying conditions of demand and supply were primary drivers in unfolding developments. Evidence of supplier-engineered production cuts is tenuous.
  • Benefits in moving from acute oil import dependence (then) to prospective energy independence (now)should not be overdrawn. There are limits to America's ability to shield itself from global energy turmoil.