Crude Volatility

Full Name
Crude Volatility: The History and the Future of Boom-Bust Oil Prices

Crude Volatility explains how past periods of stability and volatility in oil prices help us understand the new boom-bust era. Oil's notorious volatility has always been considered a scourge afflicting not only the oil industry but also the broader economy and geopolitical landscape. This book makes sense of how oil became so central to our world and why it is subject to such extreme price fluctuations. Tracing a history marked by conflict, intrigue, and extreme uncertainty, Crude Volatility shows how wild and harmful price volatility prompted industry leaders and officials to undertake extraordinary efforts to stabilize oil prices by controlling production.

"Robert McNally has written an excellent biography of a world-famous character, known for volatility and violent mood swings, sometimes reviled but always a player in the world economy and politics―the oil price. Insightful and timely, Crude Volatility explores the clash over many decades between "boom and bust" prices and the efforts to harness them. In the current market, McNally explains why volatility is likely to win out over stability―highly significant for what will remain the world's most important commodity for many years to come."

Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Prize and The Quest and Vice Chairman of IHS Markit

"Pioneer's strong balance sheet and successful hedging program―before and since the latest price bust―depended largely on McNally's sound advice and his outstanding grasp of oil market dynamics and OPEC. This same expertise is on display in his lively book, which will help any reader understand the history of oil markets, and how we got to where we are today."

Scott Sheffield, CEO, Pioneer Natural Resources

"This is an important book. Bob McNally is the first to place shale oil in its proper historical context and explain the ramifications. His conclusions have profound implications for policymakers and the market. It would be unwise to venture out into this new and more volatile oil market without using McNally as your guide."

Paul Horsnell, Global Head of Commodities at Standard Chartered

"This completely fresh viewpoint from Robert McNally is a must-read for anyone involved in the oil market. The historical perspective provided in Crude Volatility is critical to understanding the future of prices and the impact they will have on the geopolitical order in years to come. Buckle up for a wild ride!"

Paul Tudor Jones, founder of Tudor Investment Corporation and the Robin Hood Foundation

"Splendid... McNally is both a skillful historian and an astute analyst... for readers who do not have the time to tackle Daniel Yergin's 900-page standard-bearer, The Prize (1990), Crude Volatility is a concise alternative for understanding the grand narrative of oil."

R. Tyler Priest, Wall Street Journal

"[McNally] deftly explains the motivation behind attempts to temper oil market swings. . . . McNally uses history and two new oil data sets - on prices and global spare capacity - to explain that the greater the market imbalance, the wider the potential price swings, which in itself reinforces greater supply fluctuations."

Anjli Raval, Financial Times

"The most comprehensive treatment of concerted attempts to stabilize oil prices...Recommended."


"If you're an investor in the sector, a policy-maker or diplomat, or you just want a heads up about the next threats facing the global economy, read it."

Petroleum Economist

"[McNally] paints a compelling picture of the colorful history of the global oil industry . . . of interest and pertinence to nearly every energy economist (and many macroeconomists). . . . Well-researched and documented."

Energy Journal