Falling oil prices have always been somewhat of a double-edged sword: a boon to American consumers and the economy but a drag on earnings from energy companies.
The positives have traditionally outweighed the negatives, but that may be shifting now that the U.S. has become a major oil producer, UBS Chief Investment Strategist Michael Ryan told CNBC on Tuesday.
“When oil prices fall, at least in the past, we’ve gotten a huge benefit from that. It’s acted like a consumption tax [break] in the U.S,” he said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “Since we’re the marginal producer rather than consumer of oil, it doesn’t have the same positive effects that it did.”
Saudi Arabia riled the oil market Monday by cutting export prices to the United States. That, coupled with OPEC showing no signs of scaling back output, has put crude under further pressure.
Stephen Schork, founder and editor of The Schork Report newsletter, said in a separate CNBC interview Tuesday the Saudis are trying to compete with the U.S. for market share. “If Saudi [Arabia] is really going to engage the United States in a price war, I’m fearful more if it’s a signal of concern for regard for the health of the global economy.”
Ryan disagreed, arguing the dynamics in the oil market are more of an oversupply problem than a weak demand problem. While viewing lower oil prices at a net-positive for the U.S., he said: “Usually when prices begin to break down, Saudi Arabia cuts production. They’re not cutting it now.”
“We [also] know Russia is under a lot of pressure to raise revenue,” he continued, “so they’re pumping as much oil and gas as possible.”