Research interests are the political economy of the oil market, economic regulation, and technological transformation. Publications include articles on the economic history of the oil industry and the introduction of alternative fuels in California as well as the forthcoming article "Hobson's Imperialism Revisited." He is author of Mercantile States and the World Oil Cartel (Cornell University Press 1994). Prof. Nowell is very interested in the banking and money sector of the pre-capitalist periods as well as the use of Keynesian economics in the industrial capitalist and advanced industrial capitalist periods. His continuing interest in the oil industry includes the relationship between systems of conflicting property rights, including conflicts among Islamic and tribal systems and the property rights systems of the west. In 2009 he was a fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracy.