Putin’s Russia has usually allowed the print media a great deal of freedom, on the theory that what a few tens of thousands of people read in Moscow and St. Petersburg doesn’t matter. But the regime has taken over television news completely, so mass opinion is carefully controlled out of the Kremlin.
There’s virtually a petro-politics story a day right now. If it’s not the two Sudans on the verge of war, it’s a sudden resurgence of economic nationalism in Argentina, where the government gave Repsol 15 minutes to pack their bags, or economic growth slowing in India because there’s not enough coal, or even arguments over whether an independent Scotland would be oil-dependent or not.
There’s no escaping the geopolitics of energy. This has got to be the single biggest axiom for the IMF, now reviewing its ideas on how to advise governments on oil and other extractive industries, to take on board. It’s the politics, stupid. Counterintuitive, perhaps, for an institution whose whole raison d’etre is to eschew politics and achieve technocratic nirvana. But, perversely, any policymaking for the oil industry that fails to take into account the specific nature of rents - money for nothing and the things people will do to get near it - is doomed to perfection on paper and irrelevance, at best, in the real world.