Displaying items by tag: crude
The oil market has been in an extremely rough patch over the last several weeks. Just a couple months ago, many were talking about the return of $100 oil. Suddenly, prices are just half that. The question is where is crude headed next. Well, the Saudis seem committed to keeping it weak, as the Kingdom, which leads OPEC, has just announced that it will not cut production. The catch is that it said it will not do so alone, which keeps the door open to another coordinated OPEC-wide cut, such as happened several months ago.
FINSUM: The big difference between a coordinated cut now and the one from a couple years ago is that the world looks much closer to recession a present, which means demand could flatten or fall even if output lowers. That means producers could lose revenue by cutting (instead of the difference being made up by price gains), which makes a big difference.
When oil falls it tends to boost the US economy. For all the growth of our shale industry, the US is still a net importer of oil. When prices fall, Americans tend to spend more on other items that boost the economy, so oil prices sinking is usually good news. However, this time around, the fall will be bad, at least according to the Wall Street Journal. The problem is that the oil industry has grown large enough that capital expenditures in the sector make a major impact on growth. Accordingly, the capex cut that will come from falling prices will be prove a net detriment to GDP figures.
FINSUM: When oil fell in 2014-2016, US economic output also slowed, so this is a very real affect. What is worse is that it will likely show up in 2019, which is already looking to be a much weaker year.
The big crash in oil has a lot of investors worried. Generally speaking, falling oil prices are seen as a bad sign, as they tend to forecast a weakening economy. However, this time around, there is a big beneficiary—emerging markets. The large majority of EMs are oil importers, which mean they benefit from weakening prices. Accordingly, countries like India and the Philippines are seeing benefits to their currencies, and likely, their economies. Indonesia and Turkey are also big oil importers.
FINSUM: This is more of a silver lining to a negative than a positive development in itself.
Oil, like many other commodities, is seen as a good leading indicator of the economy. Because it is a strong gauge for total economic demand, it functions are a good bellwether of future growth. However, Barron’s is arguing that, right now, the signal is broken. There are a number of reasons why. The foremost of them are that the recent moves in oil have much more to do with supply growth and geopolitics than they do with economic demand.
FINSUM: Oil is not a good barometer of the economy right now because of its own issues. The oil market has changed dramatically in the last decade because of the huge expansion of oil reserves due to shale. That has led to the whole sector recalibrating itself. As evidence of this argument, take for instance the fact that oil suffered an extreme bear market from 2014-2016, but the global economy kept expanding nicely.
Oil lost big time over the last few weeks and entered a bear market late last week. However, it is surging today as new hope of an OPEC output cut has come to light. Saudi Arabia, the leader of OPEC, says OPEC is willing to consider another round of output cuts as a measure to keep prices high. The last time OPEC agreed to a round of cuts, the market was pulled out of its deep bear market and more than doubled in price.
FINSUM: We used to be skeptical that OPEC could pull off a coordinated cut because of the competing interests of members. But the success it saw last time around means no one should doubt it.