World oil prices continue to be buffeted by financial and geopolitical instability. In the U.S., its debt was downgraded in early August by Standard & Poor’s, employment numbers remain weak and consumer confidence is declining. President Barack Obama’s plan to revive the U.S. job market was unveiled in early September, but markets remain skeptical about whether the US$447 billion proposal of tax cuts and new spending aimed at boosting hiring will make it through Congress.
Across the Atlantic, countries in the euro zone are dealing with the possibility that Greece will default on its debt. The country says it needs an 8 billion euro aid installment in November to avoid running out of money to pay salaries and pensions. Its next bond redemption is due in December. Germany and France are leading discussions to tackle Greece’s debt mountain and prevent a financial market meltdown.