The oil price rises of 1973–4 and 1979–80 have not lacked forceful descriptions: e.g. ‘amongst the largest macroeconomic impulses the OECD has had to analyse over the last fifteen years or more’ (Llewellyn 1983), or ‘a milestone in modern energy history’ (Brondel and Morton 1977). The third shock, smaller in size, more delayed, and in the direction of weakening oil prices may also turn out to be of great long-term importance.