At the APEC conference in Sydney, Australia, President Bush let slip that he might have another four-letter acronym organization on his mind when he thanked “Austrian” (sic) prime minister John Howard for being a “kind host” for the “OPEC summit.” Full article here.

And well he should be thinking of OPEC today. As oil prices hover around the $77 level, OPEC meets next week to discuss its moves as we enter the fourth quarter — typically a high-demand time of year — amid the wheezing of Western economies:

SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) — The world’s major oil producers have a big decision to make when they meet next week: how to deal with signs of softening global economies and the usual run up in fourth-quarter oil demand as crude prices head toward record levels.

One thing’s for sure. Even though members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries have quite a few options to consider, their most likely move in such a time of uncertainty would be to leave production levels alone — for now, most analysts said.

“It is the express[ed] objective for OPEC to sell oil at as high a price as possible for as long a period of time as possible, without causing increased inflation or jeopardizing global economic stability,” said John Person, president of NationalFutures.com.

Whether the cartel can achieve that and how it will go about doing it is another matter.

Full article here. Certainly this morning’s U.S. employment numbers, showing an unexpected drop for the month of August, must be complicating OPEC’s strategy.

Meanwhile … soon to be unemployed: President Bush.