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Darkening Outlook For Global Economy Threatens Crude


“The outlook for the global economy in 2019 has darkened.”

That conclusion came from a new report from the World Bank, citing a variety of data, including softening international trade and investment, ongoing trade tensions, and financial turmoil in emerging markets over the past year. “Storm clouds are brewing for the global economy,” the World Bank warned.

As a result, economic growth in emerging markets could “remain flat” this year, while overall growth could be “weaker than anticipated.”

One of the key backdrops to this assessment is the rate tightening from the U.S. Federal Reserve. “Advanced-economy central banks will continue to remove the accommodative policies that supported the protracted recovery from the global financial crisis ten years ago,” the World Bank report said. After several rate hikes in 2018, the Fed had suggested that two more were on the way in 2019, although the central bank’s chairman Jerome Powell recently softened that tone.

Higher interest rates and a corresponding strengthening of the dollar puts enormous pressure on indebted countries, companies and consumers in emerging markets. Such countries are vulnerable to sudden capital outflows, which could leave them crushed under the weight of dollar-denominated debt. Worse, government debt in low-income countries has surged over the last four years, from 30 percent of GDP to 50 percent of GDP, according to the World Bank.

Growth contracted in Japan, Italy and Germany in the third quarter of last year, and financial turmoil rocked global equities in the final few weeks of 2018.

“At the beginning of 2018 the global economy was firing on all cylinders, but it lost speed during the year and the ride could get even bumpier in the year ahead,” said World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva. “As economic and financial headwinds intensify for emerging and developing countries, the world’s progress in reducing extreme poverty could be jeopardized.

The irony is that over the last two weeks, sentiment has been on the rise. Expectations of a thaw in the trade war between the U.S. and China has boosted equities, while also driving up the price of crude oil. The potential reassessment of rate hikes from the Fed has also been warmly welcomed by investors.

But that does not negate the trouble brewing for the global economy. Even a breakthrough in the trade war might not be enough to head off a slowdown. “A trade deal between the US and China, however, is likely to slow but unlikely to reverse the deterioration seen recently in forward-looking economic data from the US to Europe and China,” Ole Hanson, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank, wrote in a note.

China just reported the first annual decrease in auto sales in more than two decades, a glaring sign of an economic slowdown. Auto sales slumped by 6 percent in China in 2018, according to Bloomberg, and Goldman Sachs predicts another contraction of about 7 percent this year. China is home to the world’s largest auto market, so the plunge in sales spells trouble for carmakers everywhere.

This figure isn’t all bad, however. The sudden deceleration in auto sales is also a sign of energy transition. Ride-hailing services, and the rise of electric vehicle sales in China are potentially foreshadowing the peak of the internal combustion engine. EV sales topped 1 million for the first time in China in 2018, and could surge by another third this year to 1.6 million, according to Bloomberg and The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM).

“Demand for vehicles is still there, yet it may take about three years for the market to pick up pace,” CAAM said. “The overall uncertainties that may undermine car purchases include volatility in economic development and China’s trade relations with the U.S.”

The oil market has shrugged off many of these negative indicators at the start of 2019. WTI rebounded above $50 per barrel this week, and Brent briefly touched $60 per barrel. Both are closing in on official bull market territory, up nearly 20 percent from the low point hit in late December.

For now, the OPEC+ cuts, the improved outlook on U.S.-China trade talks, and the softer line from the Fed have encouraged oil traders. However, the warning from the World Bank should not be ignored.

By Nick Cunningham of

13 Comments on "Darkening Outlook For Global Economy Threatens Crude"

  1. FuelShortageIsComingYouAreDeadLoser on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 2:30 pm 

    I said a better indicator of oil depletion social chaos. Some news from Canada, Yellow vest threatening Trudeau on facebook post.

  2. Outcast_Searcher on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 3:12 pm 

    Fuel: Let’s pretend one news story over a relatively minor issue is “social chaos”.

    You need to get your doom-o-meter drastically adjusted.

  3. WasMyLastCommentEachTimeICommentIAmLosingBrainCelles on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 3:18 pm is now a joke of web site. Nobody comments on it or read article on this.

    I bet nobody is giving donation to shutdown the website.

  4. Chrome Mags on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 4:16 pm 

    “ is now a joke of web site. Nobody comments on it or read article on this.”

    That is mostly correct. I keep coming here and reading the articles, then thinking that should stir some interesting comments. However, mostly what this site is a battle royale between posting combatants. I don’t even come back to a thread after posting, because the responses are brutal. I’m just not interested in fighting with people, on a message board or in person. Life’s challenging enough without being filled with hatred.

  5. Peak at This on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 4:17 pm 

    > is now a joke of web site.

    You’re a joke – go read rigzone ya bonehead.

  6. makati1 on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 5:59 pm 

    Oily subjects are boring and a joke. How many times can you read the same bullshit and be interested or even stay awake?

    Today’s forecast: “Oil prices to increase because (insert excuse of the day).

    Tomorrow’s forecast: “Oil prices will go down because (insert new excuse).

    Front page headline: “GIGUNDO OIL FIELD DISCOVERED UNDER LA STREETS!” (80 years of leaking oil pan seepage).

    Yes, oil affects the world we live in, but we don’t need a hundred articles daily from desk jockeys writing for a paycheck or oil company’s propaganda to keep the investor rats on board the sinking ship USS Petroleum.

    The economy tells us how oil is doing. THAT is all that is important to the 99.99% of us who do not play the market casino. We all know where we are headed. Collapse and reset to much lower energy level world.

  7. Doc Rich on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 5:59 pm 

    Well said Chrome Mags

  8. DerHundistLos on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 6:08 pm 

    If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.

    Yes, i made my year end contribution to in your memory.

  9. Davy on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 6:14 pm 

    “Oily subjects are boring and a joke. How many times can you read the same bullshit and be interested or even stay awake?”

    Billy, if you feel that way go somewhere else. Most of your friends are gone anyway. You mostly come here out of boredom and loneliness. Your comments are stale and off topic.

  10. Doc Rich on Thu, 10th Jan 2019 6:55 pm 

    I couldn’t agree with you more. As you well know other peak oil sites comments are smart and very readable. Why this site has degenerated to such hatred is beyond me. Perhaps there is no one to filter out such comments. The oil business is incredibly complex and I for one enjoy this subject.

  11. Harquebus on Fri, 11th Jan 2019 4:57 am 

    I read the articles and browse the comments. Some comments here are worth reading. The repetive slurs coming from others have, for me, faded into the background and are now just a blur. Easily ignored.
    Also, one can be almost certain that, if there is more than one page of comments, most of the decent ones will be on the first page and most of the rest will be just garbage slinging from the usual sources.

  12. Sissyfuss on Fri, 11th Jan 2019 8:27 am 

    The variety of subjects covered by the articles here is intellectually vibrant but then the vitriol brought forth by the usual suspects is stultifying to say the least. It’s never dull here but it can be dizzying. A cheap high.

  13. Free Speech Forum on Sat, 12th Jan 2019 4:24 am 

    You know the US is doomed when Americans would rather attack those who defend freedom instead of criticizing the government that is enslaving them.

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