Re: Price of oil
The Saudis aren't loss-leading. They seem to have the cheapest oil in the world, and apparently can break even at $20 a barrel.
They are accepting less money than they could otherwise get. But then so are others. After all, demand has dropped, but no-one else seems to want to cut their supply either.
What the Saudis aren't breaking even on is their government spending. They have lots of programs based on a much higher oil price to keep the population happy, and not much taxation on anything else. So they'll have to run a government deficit. But then when the oil price was over $100 a barrel they were raking in the cash and saving it for a rainy day, so they can easily cover this. The Gulf states all put lots of Western assets by for this sort of thing, so they can sell a few of those to keep the wolf from the door. I presume the idea is to hit Venezuala, Iran and Russia - who don't have that to fall back on. Obviously Russia would be OK had it not also got itself into bother with Western sanctions, as they had nearly $600bn of reserves at the beginning of last year - but they've already blown $150 bn propping up the Rouble because of sanctions, and committed another $100-odd billion to protect government spending as no-one will lend to the Russian government, along with many more tens of billions to help the big state-backed companies cope with their debts.
It's an interesting question as to whether this is to kill the US fracking industry and Canadian tar sands, or punishing Russia and Iran for propping up Syria (when the Gulf states have been supporting the opposition). Although I guess both could be the reason. And the drop in demand gave the opportunity. Or maybe none of that is true. Maybe it's just that demand has dropped and no-one has the self-discipline to drop output. Or at least they don't trust each other to do it, and the first one to drop production loses most. After all it was people cheating on their OPEC production promises that broke the cartel down in the 80s in the first place, and I'm not sure they've ever really recovered. Now they control even less of supply than they did then. Maybe there really is no conspiracy?