Provided by the Business Insider:
There have been so many other temporary emergencies in the world over the past few years that it's easy to overlook a permanent one:
Right now, much of the global economy is weak... and oil is still over $100 a barrel!
A few years ago, when oil prices first hit this level, the news came as an absolute shock. And soon, when gas hit $4 a gallon, the entire national conversation changed.
(It didn't change so much internationally, because, thanks to gas taxes, other countries already charge way more than $4 a gallon for gas, so oil price moves don't have so huge and visible an impact on driving costs).
Specifically, $100+ oil caused many Americans to buy different cars and drive less. And it put a choke chain on the economy, throttling growth. And, shortly thereafter, the economy tanked.
And then, of course, oil prices followed the economy down, allowing everyone to focus on other more pressing emergencies.
But then, with even a crappy economic recovery from the depths of the financial crisis, oil prices soared again. And now they're back to near-emergency levels, even with the global economy sputtering.
And this time, no one's blaming "speculators." Which is good, because the "speculator" excuse was always ridiculous. Oil prices are about supply (finite) and (ever-increasing) demand.
Yes, if the global economy goes back into recession, oil prices will drop again. But the drop will be temporary.
And if the economy ever threatens to start growing at its full potential, meanwhile, oil prices will likely keep right on going up.
Until they choke off growth again.
And so on.
It has gotten to the point, in fact, that oil prices may start to act as a natural Central Bank on the world economy--raising costs when the economy starts to heat up and cutting them when it cools. And that would be fine...if we could maintain reasonable oil prices when the economy was running at a healthy rate.
But the economy is not running at a healthy rate right now, at least not in Europe and the United States.
And oil prices are already over $100 a barrel.
So we hate to think what will happen if and when we finally do see a vigorous economic recovery.