Would you be happy to see the Saudis going broke? A lot of people would, seeing the swoon in oil prices as a premeditated plot from the No. 1 OPEC producer. Recent articles have crowed about the "suicidal" Saudis, who while glutting the oil market and forcing prices lower, will have run through their almost half a trillion dollars of surplus cash if oil prices remained under $50 a barrel for the next five years.
I've got news for you -- the Saudis won't be one of the first to go, should oil stay low. They'd be one of the last.
There are a lot of oil-producing countries that rely upon oil revenue to balance their budgets. Many of them are OPEC members like Saudi Arabia, but many aren't -- and some are U.S. allies.
This chart shows some of the nations that are dependent upon oil revenues. Those most at risk are the countries furthest to the left of the chart -- but the amount of oil each produces is a multiplier that cannot be ignored, expressed in the chart by the line above the bars.
Three countries besides Saudi Arabia leap out at you as even more at risk from a low, very long-term price for oil: Iran, Venezuela and Russia.
No one in this country might shed any more tears for those three countries' financial health than for Saudi Arabia, but there are other U.S.-allied nations that also depend quite a bit on oil revenues to balance their budgets as well -- including Brazil, Mexico and Canada. Even here in the U.S., where production is currently over 9 million barrels of oil a day, the economy would take a strong downward turn if oil revenues didn't rebound in the next several years.
In short, a five-year price of oil hovering where it is now, below $50, would indicate a much wider global problem of sovereign shortfalls -- and even perhaps another global economic collapse. Sure, Saudi Arabia might be broke -- but we might be as well.
And that's nothing to root for.