The burst of a speculative bubble in crude oil has lead to diverse opinions on the commodity and the exchange traded funds (ETFs) that track it.

A 73% decline in value from peak prices of $147 per barrel has enabled both the bears and bulls to come out in full force.

The bears are advocating that the collapse of oil could be as shocking and long-lasting as its run-up seen from 2004 to 2008, sending crude prices as low as $10 per barrel.

As for the bulls, they argue more sustainable price increases are likely in oil and other commodities due to tensions in and around oil-producing countries as well as the continuous growth of the middle classes in South Asia and China, states Rob Curran of The Wall Street Journal.

Yesterday’s 6.1% increase in oil prices, sending the commodity a hair over $40 per barrel, gave both sides something to sing and dance about. The bulls are hopeful that this is the beginning of a comeback and the bears know that one-day rallies are typical of bear markets.

Today, oil is down to $39.03 a barrel, vascillating on concerns about the conflicts in the Middle East, reports Mark Williams for the Associated Press.

It seems that the direction of the commodity will be determined by whether or not there is a prolonged worldwide recession and how quickly emerging markets can bounce back.

The following are possible ways to play the oil market and/or hedge oil investments:

  • U.S. Oil Fund (USO): down 61.5% year-to-date

  • iPath S&P GSCI Oil Tot Ret Idx ETN (OIL): down 63.5% year-to-date

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.