Mar 3, 2020 - World

The world's next rich country goes to the polls

Waiting for the good life, in Georgetown, Guyana. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty

Guyana goes to the polls today a relatively poor nation, but the winner of the election could soon be leading a very rich one.

Why it matters: A massive oil find has led the IMF to project the economy will grow a whopping 85% in 2020. Zoom out further, and estimates get truly stratospheric for the South American country of 780,000.

State of play, from the Economist:

  • "[Guyana] has the world’s third-highest suicide rate and the highest rate of maternal mortality in South America."
  • "One reason is that it loses talent, including doctors and nurses. ... At least four-fifths of its university graduates leave the country."
  • "Most of the population, including that of Georgetown, the capital, is on the low-lying coast that is vulnerable to flooding. Two-fifths live on less than $5.50 a day."

The question is whether newfound oil wealth will make life significantly better.

  • "This could 'change us once and for all into a Singapore kind of country,' says the finance minister, Winston Jordan. Whichever party takes charge of the bounty could govern for decades. Mr Jordan calls the vote 'the mother of all elections.'"
  • But, but, but: "Almost every Guyanese seems to be aware that, like a downpour on parched ground, a torrent of oil money could bring destruction rather than relief."

Go deeper

Guyana's oil-soaked election heads for recount

Waiting to vote, in Leonora, Guyana. Photo: Luis Acosta/AFP via Getty Images

Guyana’s March 2 election came while the country is on the cusp of a transition from relative poverty to newfound wealth — and it was marred by severe irregularities that caused the U.S. and other countries to reject the result.

Why it matters: The coming days could determine whether the world’s next oil-rich country maintains democracy or slips back into strongman rule just as revenues start to flood in.

Go deeperArrowMar 16, 2020 - World

Trump to buy oil for nation’s strategic reserves

President Trump. Photo: The Washington Post / Contributor

President Trump will direct the Energy Department to buy oil for the nation’s strategic stockpile to boost prices and help the oil industry reeling after the market’s historic collapse this week.

The big picture: America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve was created in the 1970s to ensure the U.S. has oil in case of an emergency. Today, Trump is buying oil for the reserve because of an emergency.

The fallout from oil's collapse

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

ExxonMobil, citing an "unprecedented environment," said last night that it plans to "significantly" cut spending in light of the coronavirus and the collapse in oil prices.

Why it matters: The oil giant's announcement is the latest sign of how deeply the upended market is affecting the sector.