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OPEC's End May Be Closer Than Imagined, Even Without Iran

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I was young, but I still remember when gas hit the 50-cents-a-gallon mark (aging myself, I know), along with the lines to get it. It took almost 40 years, but my ... how things have changed.

OPEC is perhaps in the worst negotiating position for Americans since forming in 1960, and definitely since the 1980s oil glut. Absent a war involving a member nation, which admittedly occurs all too frequently, the cartel is nearing a point of irrelevance.

Investors are quickly drawing conclusions that lower energy prices also mean lower gold prices. The result is fear of inflation is fading for all but the staunchest gold bugs. The SPDR Gold Trust (GLD), one of the best inflation fear gauges, is near multi-year lows.

We have choices in tracking energy prices. Using ETFs including the United States Oil Fund (USO) and United States Natural Gas Fund (UNG) allow a quick examination of prices without worrying about which monthly contract to look at.

The world is experiencing a perfect storm of an almost implicit collusion working against the cartel. The largest democracy in the world, India, is experiencing torrid inflation for imported goods (which includes energy) as the exchange rate of the Indian Rupee versus the Dollar is near all-time. For India, energy costs aren't declining in the same way as the U.S. because oil weakness is more than offset by decreased purchasing power.

OPEC no longer includes the world's number one energy producer as a member. The U.S. holds the title for energy consumption, but is now also the number one energy producer. We can quickly see the impact increases of production have had on West Texas Intermediate (WTI) compared to North Sea Brent. For most of my trading career, WTI was more expensive than Brent.
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