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Bank of England gauges impact of lower oil prices

About 60 percent of the decline in crude oil prices in 2015 tied to demand issues, bank says.

By Daniel J. Graeber
Bank of England offers measured take on impact of lower crude oil prices, but notes inflation is below a level considered to be healthy. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI
Bank of England offers measured take on impact of lower crude oil prices, but notes inflation is below a level considered to be healthy. File Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

LONDON, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- With about 60 percent of the drop in crude oil prices linked to demand issues, the Bank of England suggested pressure may be negative for the British economy.

Lower crude oil prices have translated to a de facto form of stimulus to consumers and consuming nations, but left exporters struggling to cope with weakened economies.

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The Canadian economy most recently said it was flirting with recession. In September, the Russian Central Bank warned of a prolonged slump in crude oil prices and said there were "persistent risks of considerable economic cooling" in Russia.

The Bank of England said in a November report on inflation there were key market factors to gauge when determining the risks of lower crude oil prices to the British economy.

"The implications of recent falls in oil prices for U.K. activity will depend on the extent to which they reflect stronger supply or weaker demand," it said.

Crude oil prices in mid-2014 started moving below the $100 per barrel mark as the United States moved to a top-tier oil producer. By late 2014, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries said they were keeping production steady, arguing they needed to protect their market share in the era of U.S. shale.

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By mid-2015, concerns about the health of the European economy and signs of a slowdown in Asia raised questions about long-term demand. In its inflation report, the Bank of England said if the decline in crude oil prices is a result of softer demand, it could spell trouble for the British economy.

The bank suggested about two-thirds of the decline in crude oil prices during the last six months was likely tied to demand dynamics.

"Supply factors, however, are estimated to have been a more significant driver of the overall fall in oil prices since mid-2014," it stressed.

Despite the either-or assessment, the bank said inflation is expected to remain weak, below 1 percent, until at least the second half of 2016.

"While growth in advanced economies has continued and broadened, the [bank's] committee nonetheless expects the overall pace of U.K.-weighted global growth to be more modest than had been expected," it said.

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