Talk of recession has been linked to inverting Treasury yield curves as of late and now, it appears higher oil prices are making its way back into the pre-recession lexicon in the markets. The concept is not new as higher oil prices have been a precursor in the last five recessionary periods in the U.S.
“Quickly rising oil prices have been a contributing factor to every recession since World War II,” said Moody’s chief economist Mark Zandi.
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Oil prices have seen a remarkable run up since January 2016 when crude prices went as low as $30.29. Since then, crude has more than doubled to its current level of $67.78 as of 1:00 p.m. ET.
In the exchange-traded fund space, oil ETFs have been a major beneficiary of this run up in prices. United States Oil (NYSEArca: USO), ProShares Ultra Bloomberg Crude Oil (NYSEArca: UCO) and Invesco DB Oil (NYSEArca: DBO) have all made extraordinary gains–USO up 25.40% year-to-date and 58.53% the past year; UCO up 46.67% YTD and 131.36% the past year; DBO up 22.76% YTD and 54.40% the past year–all based on Yahoo! performance numbers.
Given the run up in oil prices, Zandi postulated that a recession could come much sooner rather than later.
“My recession odds for 2020 have significantly increased since late last year,” said Zandi.