Could Oil Go Back to $100 and Threaten Economy?

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Research firm Energy Aspects believes there is a chance oil prices could return to $100 a barrel. If that happens, the price of gas and other oil-based products would soar. If crude stayed at that price for any long period, the global economy would be crippled.

The Energy Aspects comments were reported by Bloomberg:

A slump in new production outside the U.S. shale patch in 2019 could help to send Brent crude briefly back above $100 a barrel next year…

Shale has been a primary engine to keep oil prices down. Its production is seen a means to make the United States a huge exporter of crude. That, in turn, may more than offset any production caps from OPEC or OPEC-allied nations. The increase in shale production is also a way to offset rising demand, in particular from China. Late last year, the International Energy Agency forecast that oil demand would rise for two years. It could rise as high as 1.7 million a barrel per day worldwide.

Oil spiked above $100 from January 2008 to September 2008. Gasoline prices peaked at $4.11 in July of that year. This price compares to the current price of $2.55. That makes the 2008 price 61% higher than it is now. The cost to fill at 14-gallon tank would rise from $36 to $57. The erosion of consumer spending power would be huge, and catastrophic, given that consumer activity is over two-thirds of gross domestic product (GDP).

For the time being, economists have a consensus target of about 2.5% GDP growth in 2018. At the end of last year, the figure was running closer to 3%. What could derail this year? Geopolitical disaster? A sharp rise in inflation? The number of things is relatively low.

However, put $100 oil and $4 gas on the list. Likely? Today, no. That could change over the course of the next several months.