- Oil prices have been sliding as investors focus on recession risks in the US and Europe, Daniel Yergin told CNBC.
- Russia is targeting the European economy and the Fed is working to slow the US economy to tame inflation, he said.
- Brent and WTI oil prices still remain up by more 40% in 2022.
Oil prices have been pulling back recently as tight supplies in the market have been overshadowed by economic growth worries as Russia ramps-up tensions with Europe and as the
Prices for Brent crude, the international benchmark, and West Texas Intermediate crude have each slumped about 11% after hitting highs above $120 a barrel in early June. Brent and WTI on Friday were trading with handles of $108 and $109, respectively.
Oil prices remain sharply higher on a year-to-date basis because of tight crude supply globally while demand for the commodity have spiked up as COVID infection rates decline.
However, investors lately have been turning to their focus on ”
– the R word,” said Yergin in a CNBC interview broadcast on Friday.
“You even hear that possibility from the chairman of the Federal Reserve and people are taking it seriously,” he said. The Fed “has had to choose between inflation and recession. They’re going after inflation … so I think that’s what’s easing its way into the oil price,” said Yergin, who serves as vice chairman at S&P Global.
US consumer price inflation in May hit a fresh 41-year high of 8.6%, largely as fuel prices have stepped higher. The Fed has quickly kicked up borrowing rates this year to tackle inflation, pushing its key rate to a range of 1.5% to 1.75% from the starting point of 0%.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said Friday during a UBS panel discussion in Zurich he foresees the central bank raising the fed funds rate to 3.5% in 2022.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin “has widened the war from a battlefield war in Ukraine to an economic war in Europe, where he’s trying to create hardships that will break the coalition,” said Yergin, whose books include “The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations”.
Russia has been cutting off flows of energy throughout Europe following sanctions imposed on Moscow after it launched a war against Ukraine in late February. The inflow reductions threaten to hurt regional industrial production and household consumption and lead to a contraction in economic activity.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck on Thursday declared the country in the “alarm” phase of its gas emergency plan. “We must not fool ourselves: The cut in gas supplies is an economic attack on us by Putin,” Habeck said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Brent crude and WTI prices were each still higher by more than 40% so far in 2022.