The oil price war, which came from nowhere, whacked the stock markets across the world and probably impacted the global economy too.

Analysts are probably busy now re-writing their predictions and recommendations.

Interesting that while the arm wrestling between two major oil producers is reported in headlines everywhere, the analysis seems to be stopping at the national interest level.

Yes Saudis want to maintain price (and/or market share), and the Russians want to, well, also whack shale producers from the US.

However, is this really that simple? We believe the personal motives of Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) and Vladimir Putin, compared to national interests, probably played a bigger role in this.

In Saudi Arabia, a few senior royals were detained. At least two of them had some domestic support and could be easily seen as threat to MBS’s smooth succession.

Interesting, not many people seem to associate this with the oil war, which happened at the same time.

After the war in Yemen and the blockage of Qatar (both achieving very limited results), MBS needs to move faster in domestic reforms to prove himself. And he needs to skilfully (if not forcefully) push aside the forces against him.

In Russia, well, Putin is finding ways to stay in power. He would not allow Assad to kill Turkish soldiers for nothing. Similarly he would not launch a price war just for national interest alone.

These are seasoned, calculative politicians.

Maybe to put things better in context, you can read about the Xuanwu Gate Incident in Tang Dynasty, Imperial China. You can also watch House of Cards and try to understand Viktor Petrov, the fictional Russian president in the famous American political drama.

The world is a fun place.

Thanks for reading The Low Down (TLD), the blog by the team at Momentum Works. Got a different perspective or have a burning opinion to share? Let us know at [email protected].