But I have to wonder: where are the geniuses who forecast ever-climbing oil prices just a few months ago? Arjun Murty, the Goldman Sachs wonder-kid, was said to have forecast an oil price spike of $200. Other said that climbing oil prices merely reflected an emerging scarcity of a limited resource. I was among the few who said that the sharp rise in oil prices appeared speculative and that prices should drop below $100 before the end of the year.
Now, is the fall in oil prices temporary? Should we see soaring oil prices once global growth beccomes normal. The World Bank doesn't think so. Here is what the latest Global Economic Prospects report says:
The strength, breadth (in terms of the number of commodities whose prices have increased), and duration of the current commodity boom have prompted speculation that the global economy is moving into a new era characterized by relative shortage and permanently higher (and even permanently rising) commodity prices. This outcome does not appear likely. Over the next two decades, slower population growth and weaker (though still strong) income growth are projected to cause trend global GDP growth to ease …. and, with it, the demand for commodities.<>
Although the absolute quantity of fossil fuels and metals in the earth’s crust is declining and the quantity that is extracted each year is rising, there appears little likelihood that the world will run out anytime soon. Historically, proven reserves of both metals and oil have tended to rise even more rapidly than production, remaining surprisingly constant in the case of oil at about 40 years of production.