Is high oil price still a problem？
Many people thought the problem of high oil prices should have gone away by now. Either a reduction in the terrorism premium,a withdrawal of speculative money,a slowdown in Chinese demand or an increase in Opec（the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries）production should have reduced the crude price to more normal levels.
But here we are again with US crude oil futures nudging $53 a barrel. Adnan Shihab-Eldin,Opec''s acting secretary-general,even said yesterday that the price could hit $80 if a major supply disruption were to occur.
The recent spike has been associated with cold weather in Europe and the US north-east,and some brief disruptions at US refineries yesterday. Gasoline prices also surged to a record high on Wednesday after some disappointing US inventory numbers.
But Jeffrey Currie,the Goldman Sachs analyst,says the spike has its origins in the recent improvement in economic data which saw the global leading indicator turn up for the first time in 10 months. That brought speculative interest back into many commodity prices.
Currie says many speculators had got out of commodity positions in the third and fourth quarters of 2004 and were short（betting on a price fall）early this year. The change in their position quickly added $3-$4 a barrel to the crude price.
Although Opec might be tempted to increase production,Currie says the oil price is more of a refinery problem than a production problem. Refineries lack the excess capacity to absorb the kind of oil Opec produces.
Of particular interest to investors will be the effect of higher oil on asset prices. Last year,spikes in oil prices coincided with falls in bond yields. Investors were clearly reasoning that crude would act as a tax on consumer demand. But this time round,the spike has been accompanied by a jump in US 10 year Treasury bond yields from 4 to 4.4 per cent.
Perhaps investors have decided that the economy is less vulnerable to high oil prices than it was in the past,given that last year's $50 plus peak was accompanied by rapid output growth. Or perhaps investors are now starting to worry that high commodity prices might,after all,be a sign of more general inflationary pressures.
但高盛（Goldman Sachs）分析师杰弗里·科里（Jeffrey Currie）说，油价上涨的根源在于近期经济数据有所改善，后者表明全球领先指数在10个月中首次掉头向上。这使得投机兴趣回到很多大宗商品价格上。