A Wall Street Journal survey of 53 economists found the great majority said that the spike in food and energy prices is the result of supply and demand, not speculation. At the same time, the average forecast among this group is that oil will be at $93 a barrel by year end. While the article does not elaborate, one has to assume it is due to an expected slowdown in emerging economies as the impact of the US recession starts to hit China and India.
From the Journal:
Fifty-one percent of the respondents said demand from China and India was the prime factor in soaring energy prices, and 41% said demand was the chief contributor to rising food costs. Constrained supply was cited second most-often; 20% blamed supply problems for higher food prices and 15% for increasing energy prices.
“It’s a combination of demand and supply issues,” said Joseph Carson of AllianceBernstein.
But while most of the analysts attributed the food and energy costs to fundamental trends, 11% of the economists see a potential bubble driven by speculation. “Commodity markets have become a strange safe haven, with prices well out of line with underlying market fundamentals,” said Diane Swonk of Mesirow Financial. “I am dumbfounded that a report like Friday’s employment report triggered a rally in oil prices… Just plain ridiculous.”….
The survey…. showed that the economists, on average, expect the price of crude to fall to about $105 a barrel by the end of next month from the current record-high levels above $120 and to decrease to about $93 by the end of the year. Their expectations for overall inflation continue to rise. They expect the consumer price index, which rose 4% year-over-year in March, to increase 3.6% in June compared with a year earlier.
I have trouble reconciling the consensus 25% fall in the price of oil in a mere seven months with changes in fundamentals, but I’m not the one doing the forecasting.