In the financial markets, everything makes sense in hindsight. While the narrative had continued since the 2008 Financial Crisis that energy prices were rising and there was nothing to slow them down, it only took a small crack in the armour to send oil tumbling down by about 50% since the 2014 summer peak.
This infographic video from CNN Money helps put the sudden and inevitable oil plunge in perspective. In short, it is a combination of slowing demand (stemming from China’s growth slowdown, the EU’s stagnation, and America shaking off its addiction to oil) and oversupply caused by new shale technology and OPEC keeping production constant.
Lower oil prices create some relief for consumers at the pump, but also create their own array of problems. Losses of jobs, especially around more expensive shale and oil sand production, will partly counterbalance the gains from the additional $60 billion in consumer discretionary income in 2015. Energy companies also struggle at such prices.