Oil Prices, Global Demand Expectations, and Near-Term Global Inflation
Oil prices have increased by nearly 60 percent since the summer of 2020, coinciding with an upward trend in global inflation. If higher oil prices are the result of constrained supply, then this could pose some stagflation risks to the growth outlook—a concern reflected in a June Financial Times article, “Why OPEC Matters.” In this post, we utilize the demand and supply decomposition from the New York Fed’s Oil Price Dynamics Report to argue that most of the oil price increase over the past year or so has reflected improving global demand expectations. We then illustrate what these changing global demand expectations might mean for near-term global inflation developments.
Putting the Current Oil Price Collapse into Historical Perspective
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in late January, oil prices have fallen sharply. In this post, we compare recent price declines with those seen in previous oil price collapses, focusing on the drivers of such episodes. In order to do that, we break oil price shocks down into demand and supply components, applying the methodology behind the New York Fed’s weekly Oil Price Dynamics Report.
W(h)ither U.S. Crude Oil Production?
The rapid increase in U.S. oil production of recent years was looking difficult to sustain before the pandemic, as evidenced by the limited profitability of the sector. Now, U.S. producers may have to bear the brunt of the global supply adjustment needed over the near term.
Why Did the Recent Oil Price Declines Affect Bond Prices of Non-Energy Companies?
Oil prices plunged 65 percent between July 2014 and December of the following year. During this period, the yield spread—the yield of a corporate bond minus the yield of a Treasury bond of the same maturity—of energy companies shot up, indicating increased credit risk. Surprisingly, the yield spread of non‑energy firms also rose even though many non‑energy firms might be expected to benefit from lower energy‑related costs. In this blog post, we examine this counterintuitive result. We find evidence of a liquidity spillover, whereby the bonds of more liquid non‑energy firms had to be sold to satisfy investors who withdrew from bond funds in response to falling energy prices.
Lower Oil Prices and U.S. Economic Activity
After a period of stability, oil prices started to decline in mid-2015, and this downward trend continued into early 2016.
Is Cheaper Oil Good News or Bad News for U.S. Economy?
Oil prices have declined substantially since the summer of 2014.
A New Approach for Identifying Demand and Supply Shocks in the Oil Market
An oil-price spike is often used as the textbook example of a supply shock. However, rapidly rising oil prices can also reflect a demand shock. Recognizing the difference is important for central bankers.