Energy Economy

High Oil Prices Could Tip Global Economy Into Recession

Many European nations have gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates that are the worst since the Great Recession. The region’s largest economy, Germany, already may have tipped into negative growth. The United Kingdom’s economy may be flipped into a downturn because of Brexit.

Most major data out of China shows its economic growth decelerated quickly. The United States is the only major nation measured by GDP that has not sent alarm signals. Very high-priced oil, based on the standards of the past five years, will raise prices of gasoline, heating oil, jet fuel and many petrochemical products used by businesses. There is a case that oil prices may surge toward $100 a barrel, a price last posted in 2008.

High oil prices that may spread over future months have not arrived yet. The worry is that a military conflict could arise out of the drone attack on the Saudi oil fields. Also, the Saudis appear to have no defenses to block another. Given how much of the Saudi production was taken off-line by the first attack, any further successful ones could devastate the amount available to the world, even though Saudi Arabia is among the nations that spend the most on war.

While the United States at least has the ability to produce huge amounts its own crude, particularly due to shale deposits, and it also has the 645 million barrels of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, the largest such facility in the world, the country is not immune from the short-term need for imports, nor the effects if their prices are higher. Gasoline and fuel oil prices remain fairly large portions of the monthly budgets of American low-income and middle-income families.

China, the world’s second-largest economy, faces a particular problem as the largest importer in the world. Either tight oil supply, which raises prices, or tight demand, which lowers imports, could slow China’s already wobbling economy. These are the 15 countries that control the world’s oil.

How close is the global economy to recession without the hit from oil supplies? The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have lowered GDP expectations for most countries recently. Few economists believe the global economy is growing or will grow soon, at least at a healthy level. High oil prices only make the dicey situation that is the global economy worse.