The oil slump is taking its toll on everyone within the industry. Investors have certainly suffered a great deal, with recent reports showing losses of at least $150 billion in the value of oil and gas company bonds. Crude prices began falling in the summer of 2014 and have showed little to no signs of rebounding. This has fueled fears of a wave of defaults in the United States and emerging markets.
The 300 largest oil and gas companies in the world have seen $2.3 trillion sliced from their stock market value over this time period as well, according to an analysis by the Financial Times. This comes out to a 39 percent drop since oil began its initial decline.
These staggering numbers show just how serious of a problem the financial strain on oil producers continues to be. Even with the partial recovery in prices since June, oil is still down about 65 percent from its peak back in June 2014.
Cheaper oil has has certainly been welcomed by many outside of the industry.. Lower oil prices can act as a stimulus to global economic growth by redistributing real incomes from producing countries to consumers, who tend to be more likely to spend the gains they make. But these weaker oil prices can also lead to more volatility in equity and bond markets, which can affect everyone’s investments.
“Low oil prices fuel a reduction in risk-taking, and when there is less risk-taking, asset prices will fall. It can lead to a downward asset price spiral,” states Hyun Song Shin, chief economist of the BIS.
The drop in oil has frustrated portfolio managers, especially those who had bet on stabilization last March, when prices had rallied for a brief period. The subsequent decline was a major blow to investors who bought bonds just before the prices took a second, deeper drop.
“The problem with the market is that it’s very naive to say I’m going to wait until the bottom and then I will buy,” Matthew Freund, a portfolio manager with USAA, said. “Four weeks ago . . . it was very hard to find a bid. Fast forward to today and everything is very well bid and it is very difficult to find attractive offerings.”
It is difficult to know where oil prices will stand in a few months from now. But one thing that is for certain is that the volatility in the oil markets is causing a lot of economic problems for investors and entire countries around the world.