Oil Is Back at $40, but US Production Is Down 20% From Peak

Price has more to do with decline in OPEC+ and US production (and China filling up its storage) than a speedy lockdown recovery

Oil Is Back to $40 What Does That Signal?

After dipping into negative territory crude is back ato $40. What does that mean?
Oil analyst Phil Flynn says Oil’s Road Back to $40 Signals Economic and Job Snap Back.

The road back to $40-a-barrel oil was fraught with fear and uncertainty, but eclipsing that benchmark indicates the beginning of a strong recovery from the economic shutdown. The global economy crashed to a screeching halt as the coronavirus shut down the world, causing global oil demand to crater like never before.

Overthinking or Underthinking Oil?

I am not sure which Flynn did, but I am sure it’s at least one of them.

No Jobs Recovery 

Continued Unemployment Claims in 2020-06-18

There was no jobs recovery. Continuing Unemployment Claims Tell a Bleak Story.

For 7 consecutive weeks, continued unemployment claims have topped the 20 million mark.

Historical Perspective

Continued Unemployment Claims 1970-Present 2020-06-18

Continuing claims only topped the 5 million mark in the depths of the Great Recession.

Retail Sales

On June 16, I reported Retail Sales Surge Most on Record But Number is Misleading.

  • Retail sales surged a greater than expected 17.7% in May but the numbers are still well below the pre-pandemic levels.
  • Despite the surge, sales numbers are back to levels seen in late 2015 and early 2016.

People got money and spent it, but they also skipped mortgage payments and credit card payments.

What happens when the checks run out?

Manufacturing Tells the Same Story as Claims

The Fed’s Industrial Production and Capacity Utilization puts a big negative spotlight on the emerging V-shaped recovery thesis.

The Myth of the V-Shaped Recovery in One Chart

Industrial Production, Manufacturing, Motor Vehicles

For discussion, please see The Myth of the V-Shaped Recovery in One Chart.

Housing Starts

Housing Starts, Permits, Completions May 2020


  • In January of 1959 there were 1,657,000 housing starts.
  • In May of 2020 housing starts rebounded to 974,000.
  • The number of housing starts in May 2020 were 41.8% below the level in January 1959.
  • The recessions in 1960, 1970, and 1980 had better numbers.

For details and more charts, please see Housing Recovery Not Much to Crow About.

What’s Really Happening?

  1. Fed’s New Facility Will Buy Junk Bonds With 7-1 Leverage
  2. ZeroHedge reports Hedge Funds Go “All In” As Net Leverage Hits 99%

Biggest Speculative Bubble in History

The Fed has unleashed the biggest speculative bubble in history. There no true price discovery on stocks, junk bonds, or oil.

In regards to that latter, some 20 million people of work and not driving to jobs they do not have. Still more working from home.

Industrial production and air traffic represent two more non-recovery oil usages.

US Oil Production

US Weekly Crude Poduction 2020-06-10

US Oil Production March-June 2020

US Oil Production March-June 2020

Data from EIA, US Energy Information.

Why is the Price of Oil Up?

  1. Speculation is Up
  2. Production is Down

US oil production has fallen for 13 weeks since the peak on March 13.

Production has declined from 13,100 thousands of barrels per day to 10,500 thousands of barrels per day.

That is a decline of 19.8%.

The price of oil can stay high as long as production does not exceed storage capacity.

Overthinking or Underthinking?

How about overthinking the recovery and underthinking production.

Source: Mish Talk

  1. cechas vodobenikov says

    this price benefits Russia where production costs r 20$, harms US where production costs are 50$ and is not beneficial to SA where the debt is high and the economy 1 diminsional—they r required to import gas from Qatar. Demand is high in many nations that must import oil/gas; china, India the 2 largest —UK, Germany, etc. US imports gas and oil from Canada. Perhaps a fortune teller can predict –even lacking prediction amerikan desperation is obvious—their attempt to sabotage nordstream, imposition of sanctions, tariffs, imperialism, etc—expected from a nation of incompetents, unable to compete—they cheat

  2. David Bedford says

    All US oil production (fracking) they have gained since the crash of 2008 has typically been lost since Russia and Saudi Arabia refused to cut production at the last OPEC+1 meeting. I guess they were depending on Hillary being elected and going to war with Iran and stealing all their oil LOL

    1. Natural_Texan says

      .. and Venezuela and Syria. But not just stealing it, keeping it in the ground to keep the price up.

  3. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

    Oil being back up to $40 signals that the oil tankers that had been sitting offshore of refineries have been unloaded, creating a place to store the glut plugging foreign storage facilities.

  4. Saint Jimmy (Russian American) says

    How about overthinking the recovery and underthinking production.

    How about wishful thinking and capitalist propaganda.

    1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

      What is your non-wishful thinking and anti-capitalistic propaganda in refutation?

      1. Saint Jimmy (Russian American) says

        I’m not interested in propaganda. I’m interested in facts. None of the facts I’ve seen – and government reported statistics are not facts – indicate an economic recovery or even improvement any time within the next 2 years or longer. Hell, we never recovered from last time our taped together capitalist hot rod broke down back in 2008. We were able to keep it running at a reduced speed. I think the goddamn block is cracked in half this time. Time to ditch it.

        1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

          If you are interested in facts but have none, how is anything you say based on that anything but propaganda?
          What would you ditch it in favor of?
          Capitalism has been dead since Alexander Hamilton killed it by creating an unconstitutional national bank. The destruction of that bank by Andrew Jackson didn’t bring back capitalism.
          The best place to get accurate and true economic facts is shadowstats.com

          1. Saint Jimmy (Russian American) says

            I’m familiar with Shadowstats. They are providing a very useful service. I’m in favor of a mostly socialist system with limited, targeted, controlled capitalism and maximum individual liberties.

            1. disqus_3BrONUAJno says

              Which is exactly what we have had since capitalism collapsed in the early 19th century, so what is the problem?

          2. cechas vodobenikov says

            comic book economics

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