June 20, 5:00 pm EST
We’ve talked about the case for much higher oil prices since I started writing this daily note back in January of 2016. And we’ve since had a triple off of the February 2016 bottom.
The crash in oil prices from 2014 to 2016 was induced by OPEC as an effort to crush the competitive U.S. shale industry. While they nearly succeeded, these oil producing countries nearly killed their own economies in the process. So, in effort to drive oil prices higher, to salvage oil revenues, they had to flip the switch in late 2016, cutting production for the first time since 2008. And they did so, in a market that was already undersupplied. And in a world where demand has been underestimated, and growing.
So now, we’ve had this big recovery – nearly a round trip back to those 2014 levels.
The problem? The oil price crash was a threat to the global economy, as bankruptcies were lining up and deflationary forces were returning in the global economy. But now, current oil prices (and higher) are threatening to the recovery too, specifically the economic gains from fiscal stimulus.
And that’s on the wrong side of Trump. So, we’re seeing pressure on OPEC from the White House.
Will OPEC comply?
They are meeting now to determine whether or not they stick with current policy, or make an increase to production.
The expectations have been set for an increase. But there is dissension in the ranks at OPEC. If they surprise markets and maintain current output (i.e. no increase), we could see oil move much higher, and quickly. That would throw a wrench in almost everything. Remember, Trump’s tough positioning has a lot to do with the leverage he gets from a strong economy. $100 oil would threaten the economic outlook, and change the face of trade negotiations and the geopolitical environment.
We will likely hear leaks on Friday and probably hear a decision from OPEC on Saturday.
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