Here’s a terrific chart from our friends over at Chart of the Day.


When you adjust the price of oil (and thus, gasoline) for inflation, relative to the past its merely more expensive than it was — but not outrageously so. Indeed, energy now consumes about 2-3% of GDP, down from 15% (if memory serves me) 30 years ago.

Category: Finance

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

12 Responses to “Oil: Inflation adjusted”

  1. camille roy says:

    In a way this is discouraging because it says that oil prices are high enough to slow our economy but too low to encourage conservation and alternative energy development. The worst of both worlds!

  2. Mike says:

    I’ll say this again — what this really illustrates is just how little folks pay attention to the other inflation we live with. Instead of saying “the price of oil isn’t that bad when adjusted for inflation” what it’s really saying is “hey if you think the price of oil is high, just look at the price of everything else you buy!”.

    Even though oil is cheaper now (inflation adjusted) and we use less of it (when compared to GDP), it exposes how highly leveraged our economy is to the resource. Let me quote from

    “When one hears the numbers which show the U.S. economy currently squeezes more than twice the amount of real GDP from a barrel of crude oil than it was able to in the 1970′s, the distinct impression of less dependence upon crude oil is conveyed… [The US] has pumped up its level of real GDP to the enormous size we see today, but with crude oil still inseparably intertwined at virtually every level of economic activity. As such, by squeezing more than twice the real GDP from every barrel of crude oil, the U.S. has dramatically increased the leverage that each barrel of crude oil enjoys over the GDP.”

  3. brian says:

    From a low of around $15 in 1999 oil has more than tripled to $47. No wonder that the US economic recovery has been so tepid as dollars that could have gone to domestic consumption activities is being diverted to the OPEC cartel.

  4. david says:

    Goin’ old school on some of your butts … look at the US Stats History Colonial Times to Present (vols 1&2) look up the price of oil (v 2 as I recall) and the CPI (v 1). The real price of oil was higher in the 1850′s than it is today or even 1980!
    Barry, keep up the blog. I work at a hedge fund in london and start my day w/ you and coffee. Might have to cut you in on the performance fee.

  5. Sus_Ano says:

    Say doesn’t this graph also show that when the price of oil hits the $38 to $45 range the economy falls into a recession? And isn’t the price already PAST the point most of the recessions begin? It looks like the only two data points that are higher the crisis in Iran and Gulf war I…

  6. To Sus_Ano –its inflation adjusted, so you shouldn’t use hard numbers (versus relative $s)

    To David: How relevant was oil to the US economy in 1850? Its price was utterly meaningless.

    Stick to the 20th century for comparos regarding Petrol — preferably post-War . . .

  7. Kevin says:

    Actually, I found this oil price graph today using Google and found it to be quite interesting/useful. Thanks!

  8. steve even says:

    i hate gasolion pirates they are gay. and so are the iraqy bitches that control the oil in iraq.

  9. Emmy says:

    Well, I found this graph *today* and found it quite interesting, here in the future. So, for anyone who’s here right now, the price on July 13, 2006 passed $78/bbl. (You can pretty much just extrapolate a straight line up–don’t bother with the “reasons” or slight “peaks” at this point, since we’re probably at the *real* Peak now. The Media, of course, continue to give a different “reason” every day for the relentless increases. Today it was: violence in the Middle East. Boy howdy, who woulda seen *that* coming??) Presumably, if you are reading this in the near future, the price will have exceeded the 1980 price. If you’re in the far future…well, forget that, since, after Peak Oil, which is probably upon us, the server on which this data resides will have long ago been converted back to its original elements, and the Internet will once again be the province of a very few–and not the likes of us. *Sigh*.

  10. William says:

    And one year after Emmy’s comment… prices are still hovering near $80. They aren’t going back down anytime soon unless a global depression, conservation, or alternative fuels depress consumption.

  11. Erik Peterson says:

    96$ a barrel … closing in on inflation adjusted highs very quickly. better pack up and head for the hills…

  12. Mamadi says:

    What are you guys saying now? :)