Jerry Flory hates it when the price of oil goes up. The co-owner of Flory’s, a small, family chain of petrol stations and convenience stores about 40 miles north of New York, he says that when fuel prices rise customers look for someone to blame. The current targets include Congress, the Iraq war, and the retailers. “People are just lashing out,” Mr. Flory says. “I always sympathize with our customers because they travel, and it puts a hurt on their pocketbooks. When they’re putting kids through college and they need the money, it’s difficult.”
The average price of a gallon of petrol in New York state has risen from a little over $2 in early 2016 to just under $3 today. Oil is also beginning to hit a raw nerve in the White House, as President Donald Trump revealed when he tweeted about it last week. “Looks like Opec is at it again”, he wrote. “Oil prices are artificially Very High! No good and will not be accepted!” The benchmark Brent crude hit $75 a barrel this week for the first time since 2014.
The 65 percent surge in oil prices since last June has been one of the more striking features of the global economy — and could also play a role in an important election year in the US. The buoyant oil market is partly the result of the strong performance of the world’s leading economies which Maurice Obstfeld, chief economist of the IMF, said was becoming “broader and stronger”, and partly a reflection of supply curbs implemented by Opec and other leading oil-producing nations.
But it could also be a warning sign about looming geopolitical risks — most notably, Mr. Trump’s threat to withdraw from the international deal over Iran’s nuclear programme. Mr Trump has made it very clear this week that he does not like the deal, calling it “ridiculous” and “insane” and saying “it should have never, ever been made”.