Yet, with the quadrupling of the price of oil and the emergence
of Petrodollars, there seems to be the following three
main concerns: management of accumulated money reserves resulting
from the sale of oil, the effect on the balance of payments in
both industrialized and developing countries and the impact on
Needless to say that major oil-exporting countries are less developed.
Therefore, earning Petrodollars does not represent real
wealth, but rather, a means to acquire it. Hence, economic development
of the oil-exporting countries should be based on the conversion
of their subsoil resources into plants, equipment, infrastructure,
hospitals, education, technology and such other forms of real
income-generating assets. Obviously the conversion process can
be carried on at different rates. An optimum rate is that at which
oil should be pumped so that the present discounted value of the
income created in the conversion process is maximized.
Yet, oil-exporting countries have pumped oil at a rate far in
excess the optimum rate. Furthermore, we know that within a certain
band of prices and during certain time intervals, demand for oil
is inelastic which means that more revenue will be realized by
the seller if offers fewer units of the product for sale. Oil-exporting
countries have sold and are selling far more oil than they would
sell if these basic economic principles are observed.
This excess - the difference between the volume of oil actually
supplied and the volume that should be supplied in the strict
observance of the national economic interests of the oil-exporting
countries - is, in fact, a subsidy these countries grant
the Western world and Japan.
Incidentally, there could be a number of political and other reasons
which would lead oil-exporting countries to adopt an oil policy
which is not consistent with their own economic interests.
Be it as it may, this actual production policy lead to the emergence
of Petrodollars which will substantially increase as a
result of the recent hike in the price of oil, thus providing
financial means to spend on development projects.
I shall, however, restrict my remarks to the Petrodollars
accruing to the Arab-oil exporting countries since they have the
largest known reserves of oil in the world and, hence, they are
the largest exporters of crude petroleum to world markets.
As monetary wealth holders, Arab oil producing countries have
the following main goals: portfolio management of Petrodollars,
risk minimization in holding foreign money in foreign territories
and economic development through the conversion process as explained
In pursuing the first two goals, American and European financial
institutions together with Arab banks formed the following multinational
Union des Arabes et FranHaises
(UBAF) was established in Paris in 1970 with more than $700 million
in assets. It is 40% owned by CrJdit
Lyonnais but controlled by fourteen Arab banks. UBAF has subsidiaries
in London, Rome, Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Tokyo. Partners in
those subsidiaries including several big European banks and the
Bank of Tokyo.
Banque Franco-Arabe d=Investissements
Internationaux (FRAB) was chartered in Paris in 1969 by the Kuwait
Investment Company in partnership with the French SociJtJ
and the SociJtJ
de Banque Suisse. It has about $180 million in assets.
The European Arab Bank headquartered in Luxembourg started in
1972 . It was made up of sixteen Arab financial institutions including
FRAB and seven European banks. It has subsidiaries in Brussels
and Frankfurt and plans to have branches in Paris and Milan.
La Compagnie Arabe et International d=Investissements
was incorporated in Luxembourg in January, 1973. It is owned by
twenty four Arab and Western banks including the Bank of America
together with West German, Italian, Japanese and french banks.
It opened its first subsidiary in Paris in April, 1973.
In addition to the above four major consortia, there are several
other institutions and banks which are presently competing independently
for business with Arab oil-exporting countries. The First National
City Bank of New York operates branches in Beirut, Saudi Arabia,
Bahrain and Dubai. The Chase Manhattan Bank of New York has branches
in Beirut and Bahrain. Chase Manhattan along with Morgan Guarantee
Trust of New York hold most of Saudi Arabian government deposits.
In addition, a number of other American banks operate out of Beirut
which is regarded as the Mideast financial center.
There is only one private Arab banking institution, The Arab Bank,
which is functioning on an international basis in bidding for
deposits of Petrodollars. The Arab Bank was incorporated
in Jordan and has branches in Zurich, London and Frankfurt.
Furthermore, there are a few individuals who manipulate some funds from Petrodollars in world money markets strictly for commission. Using those funds as collateral, they can even borrow money at a certain rate and lend out at a higher rate. This probably explains why four Arabian Gulf Emirates were the largest borrowers in the Euro-dollar market during the month of November and the first week of December. AAn amount of $340 million has been borrowed by four [Arabian] Gulf Emirates in the Euro-dollar market over the last five weeks. These loans alone equal about two weeks normal world Euro-dollar borrowing and have had an upward effect on rates in the market.@8 The following question may now be posed. Will the above financial institutions and private bankers be able to manage Arab Petrodollars particularly when such reserves increase from $13.1 billion in 1973 to an estimated figure of about $50 billion in 1974?
Recent regulations to control mobility of international money
in industrial advanced countries suggest that the answer is in
the negative. Such measures include temporary prohibition of reconversion
of non-resident accounts into foreign currency as well as blocking
increments to accounts as is the situation in West Germany, Switzerland,
Belgium and the Netherlands. There are also straightforward limits
on foreign borrowing by requiring compulsory cash deposits on
inflows arising from borrowing abroad. In West Germany, such borrowing
can be prohibited once the compulsory cash deposit is raised to
one hundred percent of the amount borrowed from foreign international
Even advanced payments for imports were restricted in France,
Italy and Japan while advance receipts for exports were banned
in Australia, Japan and the Netherlands. Further restrictions
may be exhibited in the establishment of dual exchange markets
in Belgium, France, Italy and Luxembourg for the purpose of discriminating
against international flows of money whenever monetary policy
The main reason for such controls is to avoid disruptive movement
of money in international money markets caused by interest-rate
differentials and exchange rate fluctuations, a situation which
would make it difficult for any nation to pursue an independent
monetary policy and a situation which may also cause balance of
payments disequilibria. Still fresh in their minds, The European
central bankers learned from the Eurodollar experience, a lesson
which they are not likely to repeat.
Therefore, the placement of Arab Petrodollars in the European
banks and in the Eurodollar market will be limited due to recent
restrictions on money movements in industrialized countries and
the fear from currency devaluations.
Yet, before we turn to the prospects of allocating Arab Petrodollars
to other alternative uses, it is important to comment on the many
projections of the oil revenues in the future.
While projections of OPEC=s
oil revenues presented by the International Bank for Reconstruction
and Development, the International Monetary Fund, the OECD, or
else by Walter J. Levy, may be accurate in the very short run,
they are definitely exaggerated in the long run. The bias - between
reasonable economic projections and the exaggerated ones which
may be designed on purpose - stems from a simple extrapolation
of Petrodollars while neglecting crucial dynamic forces
such as the expected rise in the price of goods and services industrialized
advanced countries will export to the members of OPEC for their
massive developmental programs. ABlind
extrapolation..of this sort ignores the many economic factors
at work in the world oil market which tend to moderate adverse
Therefore, it seems that the effect of the recent quadrupling
of the price of oil on the balance- of-payments deficits of the
industrialized advanced countries is exaggerated in the long run.
This does not mean there will be no deficits in the international
segment of the world advanced economies. In fact those deficits
will exist so long as there are causes of external disequilbria
long before the rise in the price of oil and which have not been
It is also expected that in a few years the price of oil will
rise once again but will have to fall according to what market
conditions dictate as it is not even in the economic interests
of oil-exporting countries to push the price beyond the interval
in which demand is inelastic.