Consider this: in 1929, an average American would have had to pay 1.49 per cent of her or his annual income of $84.90 to buy a barrel of crude oil, which then sold for $1.27. Fifty years later, in the wake of the Iranian revolution, oil prices soared to $31.61. But the annual earnings of the average American rose had risen even more sharply, to $7,956. That meant that a barrel of oil would cost them just 0.39 per cent of their earnings – a quarter of what it did in 1929.
The numbers for recent years are even more revealing. In 2008, oil prices soared to $96.91 – very similar to now. But the average American earned $35,931 that year, which means a barrel of oil would cost them 0.26 per cent of their earnings: well below what it would have in the oil-shock 1970s.
And there\’s this as well:
Bar Norway, the world’s largest oil exporters are now poorer, relative to the world’s great economies, than they were five decades ago. “The conclusion must be,” the commentator Amir Taheri wrote in 2006, “that those who buy oil get rich and those who sell it do not.”