The start of a new year is a good time to take stock. For those of us in the news business, this suggests stepping back and asking what’s important. Here are five economic stories worth watching.

(1) What happens to oil? Saudi Arabia has helped drive down crude prices from roughly $100 a barrel to about $60 by refusing to cut its production in the face of a global surplus and the unwillingness of other producers to cut their output. The question is whether the Saudis will hold to this strategy until enough high-cost producers — including some U.S. shale oil operators — are driven from the market or whether they’re seeking some sort of production-sharing agreement with major exporters inside and outside the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. What’s clear is that Saudi Arabia doesn’t want to cut output unilaterally.

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