Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Mind-Bending Distortion

The coronavirus pandemic has caused a series of mind-bending distortions across world financial markets, but Monday featured the most bizarre one yet: The benchmark price for crude oil in the United States fell to negative $37.63.

That means that if you happened to be in a position to take delivery of 1,000 barrels of oil in Cushing, Okla., in the month of May -- the quantity quoted in the relevant futures contract -- you could have been paid a cool $37,630 to do so. (That is about five tanker trucks' worth, so any joke about storing the oil in your basement will have to remain just that.)

-- Neil Irwin, "What the Negative Price of Oil is Telling Us", New York Times, 21 April 2020

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