GUNDLACH: If oil goes to $40 a barrel something is ‘very, very wrong with the world’

Jeffrey Gundlach

Jeff Gundlach – bond trader

West Texas Intermediate crude oil is at a 6-year low of $43 a barrel. 

And back in December 2014, “Bond King” Jeff Gundlach had a serious warning for the world if oil prices got to $40 a barrel.

“I hope it does not go to $40,” Gundlach said in a presentation, “because then something is very, very wrong with the world, not just the economy. The geopolitical consequences could be — to put it bluntly — terrifying.”

Writing in The Telegraph last week, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard noted that with Brent crude oil prices — the international benchmark — below $50 a barrel, only Norway’s government is bringing in enough revenue to balance their budget this year. 

And so in addition to the potential global instability created by low oil prices, Gundlach added that, “If oil falls to around $40 a barrel then I think the yield on ten year Treasury note is going to 1%.” The 10-year note, for its part, closed near 2.14% on Tuesday. 

On December 9, 2014, WTI was trading near $65 a barrel and Gundlach said oil looked like it was going lower, quipping that oil would find a bottom when it starts going up. 

WTI eventually bottomed at $43 in mid-March and spend most all of the spring and early summer trading near $60. 

On Tuesday, WTI hit a fresh 6-year low, plunging more than 4% and trading below $43 a barrel. 

WTI

In the last month, crude and the entire commodity complex have rolled over again as the market battles oversupply and a Chinese economy that is slowing.

And all this as the Federal Reserve makes noise about raising interest rates, having some in the market asking if these external factors — what the Fed would call “exogenous” factors — will stop the Fed from changing its interest rate policy for the first time in over almost 7 years. 

In an afternoon email, Russ Certo, a rate strategist at Brean Capital, highlighted Gundlach’s comments and said that the linkages between the run-up, and now collapse, in commodity prices since the financial crisis have made, quite simply, for an extremely complex market environment right now. 

“There is a global de-leveraging occurring in front of our eyes,” Certo wrote. “And, I suppose, the smart folks will determine the exact causes and translate what that means for FUTURE investment thesis. Today it may not matter other than accurately anticipating a myriad of global price movements in relation to each other.”

CRB commodity price index

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