Oil prices still matter to the health of the world economy. Higher oil prices since 1999 partly the result of OPEC supply-management policies contributed to the global economic downturn in 2000-2001 and are dampening the current cyclical upturn: world GDP growth may have been at least half a percentage point higher in the last two or three years had prices remained at mid-2001 levels. Fears of OPEC supply cuts, political tensions in Venezuela and tight stocks have driven up international crude oil and product prices even further in recent weeks. By March 2004, crude prices were well over $10 per barrel higher than three years before. Current market conditions are more unstable than normal, in part because of geopolitical uncertainties and because tight product markets notably for gasoline in the United States are reinforcing upward pressures on crude prices. Higher prices are contributing to stubbornly high levels of unemployment and exacerbating budget-deficit problems in many OECD and other oil-importing countries.