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Oil Prices Continue To Contract As OPEC Maintains Production Levels

December 10th, 2014 Comments off

Since mid-June the price per barrel of petroleum has collapsed by a staggering 37 percent. This almost perfectly  mirrors–in reverse- -the steep rise in oil prices  in mid-2008, which was followed by an equally sharp contraction when the Great Recession–the onset of the global economic and financial crisis–struck with full fury.

Only a few years ago, the talk in global investment circles was about the phenomenon of Peak Oil.  However, several factors have converged to precipitate the collapse of oil prices. Not only has the continued slump in the Eurozone  softened global demand for petroleum exports; the production of shale-derived oil in the United States, enabled by cost-effective technological breakthroughs in extraction, has greatly increased the global supply of oil, while dampening demand in the U.S. for oil imports. Furthermore, China’s growing appetite for imported oil has been at least partially retarded by lower rates of economic growth. In addition, OPEC has failed to cut global production, thus maintaining high global output of oil.

Oil remains a volatile commodity. A new crisis in the Middle East, particularly with Iran, could easily spike oil prices. However, if the economic forces that have propelled the downward  pressure on petroleum prices prove stable, the result could very well be fiscal calamity for several oil-dependent economies, particularly those of Venezuela and Iran, and to a slightly lesser degree Russia. Left uncertain is the long-term impact of shale oil extraction in the United States, which requires prices above the cost of extraction, currently in the mid-forty dollars per barrel range, to remain economically viable. With the current per barrel price of oil below 70 dollars, it is not inconceivable that further declines may place the booming shale oil industry in the U.S. in a serious quandary.

The current collapse of oil prices, combined with other negative economic trends, opens up long-term implications that will further upset the already fragile state of the global economy. The short-term befits of lower prices at the gas pump will be likely offset by the worldwide ramifications of shrinking fiscal resources for major oil-exporting emerging economies, which may place financial institutions and investment firms at risk that are highly exposed to debt by sovereigns that are highly reliant on oil exports.

 

If Hillary Clinton runs for President of the United States  in 2016, see the video about the book that warned back in 2008 what a second Clinton presidency would mean for the USA:

 

CLICK ON IMAGE TO VIEW VIDEO

Hillary Clinton Nude

Hillary Clinton Nude

Will Oil Prices Surge Again?

June 21st, 2009 Comments off
It was only a year ago when the price of a barrel of oil surged above $140. Indeed, amid charges of oil price manipulation by greedy speculators, several leading contenders for the 2008 U.S. presidential race seized on the escalating petroleum price as a major campaign issue. Remember when senators Hillary Clinton and John McCain offered to eliminate Federal gas taxes as an inducement to desperate voters?
The Global Economic Crisis, emerging with full fury after the near collapse of the world’s financial system last fall, brought about an even more spectacular collapse in oil prices. Recently, amid reduced demand sparked by a synchronized global recession, the price of a barrel of black crude descended below $40 a barrel, sending OPEC into fits of despair.

Now, however, the price of oil is once again moving upward. In part, suggest analysts, this is due to a perception that the worst of the economic free fall is behind us. Whether those perceptions are valid or not (and I don’t believe they are), psychology is an important factor is establishing commodity valuation. However, I believe there are other forces at work, or which may intervene in the future, that could radically escalate the price of hydro-carbon energy irrespective of recessionary constraints on consumption. Here, briefly, are factors to consider in anticipating any future oil shock:

  1. China hedging on oil. Apparently, the Chinese are shifting investments allocated from their sovereign wealth fund from U.S. Treasury bills to commodities, including oil. With a sharp drop in exports only partially redressed by a stimulus-funded drive at boosting domestic consumption, it appears that China is building up an oil reserve in anticipation that this commodity will eventually rise greatly in price, simultaneously with the future depreciation of the American dollar. Should China’s oil hoarding increase in tempo, a significant upside in the price of petroleum will become highly probable.
  2. Political instability in the Persian Gulf. The political upheaval occurring in Iran in the aftermath of a presidential election widely perceived by the Iranian people to have been rigged has an unpredictable dynamic. However, most scenarios, either involving prolonged violence or the perpetuation of a radical regime committed to acquiring nuclear weapons, will likely facilitate events that will impact the supply of oil from the most energy-intensive real estate on the planet. Even the mere perception that things might go bad will be enough to drive up the price of oil. Actual events, including internal and external violence, will impose a significantly higher cost penalty.
  3. A terrorist attack involving a strategic target related to the oil industry. Al-Qaeda is well aware of the vulnerability of the global economy, at a time of profound financial and economic crisis, to a targeted attack on a vital element related to the oil industry. Only one single but highly significant target would be enough to send the price of oil to a much higher level. Unfortunately, Al-Qaeda and its allies have many choices to select from a menu of targets. In terms of extraction, transportation to consumers as well as refining and storage infrastructure, there are literally thousands of targets across the globe, any one of which would prove impactful to the stability of oil prices. It would be unduly optimistic to assume that Al-Qaeda is not focussed on such an objective, or that security forces are so effective that they can protect every possible target.

The fall in oil prices from their record highs of last summer amounts to, in effect, a tangible economic stimulus program. Unlike government stimulus spending programs, the fall in oil prices required no deficits, and meant an immediate infusion of money into the pockets of private and corporate consumers. Conversely, the return to higher energy prices at a time in which the world is experiencing its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s would, in terms of impact, be a major tax penalty being imposed on any attempt at a sustained recovery. In essence, the entire global economy is being held hostage to the volatile pricing forces of an essential commodity. Clearly, when it comes to oil price levels, the market does indeed rule.

 

 

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