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Sunday, August 14, 2011

Hamilton: Economic consequences of recent oil price changes

by Calculated Risk on 8/14/2011 02:11:00 PM

From Professor Hamilton at Econbrowser: Economic consequences of recent oil price changes

Earlier this year, disruptions in Libya and the resurgence of demand from the emerging economies sent oil prices up sharply, a development that many economists believe contributed to the slow growth for 2011:H1. The chaotic markets of the last few weeks saw oil prices drop back down to where they had been in December. Will that be enough to revive the struggling U.S. economy? There is some evidence suggesting that it may be too late.

I recently completed a survey of a large number of academic studies that found a nonlinear economic response to oil price changes. One very well-established observation is that although oil price increases were often associated with economic recessions, oil price decreases did not bring about corresponding economic booms. ... An oil price increase that just reverses a recent price decrease does not seem to have the same economic effects as a price move that establishes new highs.
emphasis added
In his post, Hamilton notes that there is usually a lagged response to oil price increases, and the worst impact from the sharp increase earlier this year would usually be expected at the end of this year - even though prices have since declined.

However, Hamilton continues:
My reading of developments during 2011 has been that, because of the very high gasoline prices we saw in 2008, U.S. car-buying habits never went back to the earlier patterns, and we did not see the same shock to U.S. automakers as accompanied some of the other, more disruptive oil shocks.
So maybe the impact will be less than for previous price shocks. Lower oil and gasoline prices has to help a little, however as Hamilton concludes, the reasons for the recent oil price decline are not good news for the U.S. economy.