Here’s a headline that cries out to be rebuked: Oil Traders Have Already Priced in the Effects of Sanctions. I’m not so sure myself — am on record, actually, with a prediction that prices will top $80 a barrel before this run-up ends. I should mention that the headline was not in some rinky-dink newspaper that gets all of its non-local stories from the Associated Press, but in the Houston Chronicle, which covers the energy sector insightfully and with great diligence. A companion story on the front page notes that Texas shale drillers could benefit from market disruptions caused by Trump’s planned sanctions against Iran, which is a major energy producer. The Chronicle story does make clear, albeit unintentionally, that if crude oil prices should continue to rise, it would have to be for some reason other than the sanctions. What the markets have not fully considered, as I wrote here earlier, is the possibility of war between Iran/Hezbollah and Israel. If it’s coming, energy markets are going to react in a way that will make the recent run-up in prices seem relatively mild.
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