Oil prices spiked to another in a series of records Monday, with crude-oil futures hitting $117.60 a barrel as Nigerian rebels fueled concerns about a disruption of supply by claiming they blew up two pipelines. Also, the already weak dollar dropped, helping to make oil more expensive for Americans. (MarketWatch)
What the commentators said
The question on everybody’s mind is, will prices come back down soon? said Sharon Epperson in CNBC.com. The answer isn’t comforting. Surging consumption in China and India and reduced production in Russia have left global supplies struggling to meet demand. And that’s translating into increasing pain at the gas pump. With the added upward pressure of the U.S. summer driving season, already rising gasoline prices could hit $3.60 by the end of the month, and $4 later in the summer.
“As crude-oil prices edge further into uncharted territory,” said Gregory Meyer in The Wall Street Journal, “life as a bear has become lonelier than ever.” But there’s still a possibility that oil prices will fall, at least back to the $80-a-barrel range, according to some increasingly lonely analysts. “For these observers who see the world's oil supply-and-demand balance loosening and weighing on prices, the red-hot rally is nothing short of astonishing.”
Yes, it is possible that we are experiencing a commodities bubble that could burst at any time, said Paul Krugman in The New York Times (free registration). But if that were the case one would expect to see people hording oil and other commodities, and that simply is not happening. The more likely explanation is that with runaway growth in China and other emerging markets, wealthy nations are having to compete with formerly impoverished ones, and the result is a run-up in prices for the planeet’s dwindling resources. “Don’t look now, but the good times may have just stopped rolling.”