By Gregor Stuart Hunter
If oil prices head above $100 a barrel, it could shave 0.2 percentage points from global economic growth next year — but this hinges crucially on the dollar, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Sanctions on Iran, shale bottlenecks, Venezuelan turmoil and increased demand pose an upside risk to prices, the bank said in a note. Higher prices would slow growth in the euro-area, U.K. and Japan though ramped-up energy production in the U.S., Australia and Brazil would likely cushion the blow to the worlds economy, it said.
The dollar is the swing factor, according to economists Ethan Harris and Aditya Bhave. A stronger greenback would “polarize outcomes further,” with oil importers suffering more and producers benefiting, while a weaker U.S. currency would “play the role of equalizer,” they said.
“Higher oil prices seem inevitable, and in our view, $100 per barrel is easily within reach,” they wrote. “We would put an oil shock in the top three of our concerns over the next year along with trade wars and the exit-sential risks in Europe.”
Brent crude futures have risen over 25 percent this year to $84.35 per barrel Tuesday, with the Bloomberg Dollar Spot index up almost 3 percent. In late September, Merrill Lynch said it expects Brent to peak at $95 by the end of next June.
While the shale boom in the U.S. means the country is less at risk from higher oil prices, the euro-area, Japan, China and India stand to lose significantly from a spike, according to the report. The countries that stand to lose from higher prices have historically been much more systemically important to the global economy and financial markets than oil exporters, it said.
“Putting everything together, we think $100 oil could take two tenths off global growth in 2019,” the economists wrote. “This is not a major impact, but it isnt trivial either.”