Economists tend to focus on at least “somewhat likely” hypotheticals before unleashing their powers of prognostication, which makes this gem a bit chilling:

Crude oil prices would need to jump by more than a third to tip the U.S. into recession, according to a survey by a National Association for Business Economics.

An increase in crude oil prices to $100 per barrel would sink growth in the world’s largest economy, according to the median estimate of 195 members surveyed from Aug. 1 to Aug. 15. While less dependent today, it would take at least 10 years to find alternative sources of energy to insulate the economy from crude oil at that price.

‘‘Members believe that oil prices above $100 per barrel would probably cause a recession, but we don’t believe they will go that high,’’ Stuart Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh and president of the group, said in a statement. ‘‘They see little prospect of significant substitution of other technologies for oil in the next decade.’’

Full article here.

Meanwhile, oil prices have been upgrading and downgrading and upgrading — like Ernesto, from a hurricane to a tropical storm and back again — as analysts measure the potential impact of the hurricane season in the Gulf.  Short-to-medium term traders would do well to remember that oil is an international commodity, whereas natural gas is less so.  In London, prices are rising, but largely due to jitters over Iran:

LONDON — Oil prices rebounded Tuesday as the market shifted its attention to Iran and other supply issues on signs that tropical storm Ernesto would avoid Gulf of Mexico oil facilities.

Light sweet crude for October delivery increased 15 cents to $70.46 a barrel in European morning electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

October Brent crude at London’s ICE Futures exchange gained 19 cents to US$71.01 a barrel.

The crude price fell as low as $70.15 a barrel on Monday before settling at $70.61, a drop of $1.90, on signs that Ernesto would likely bypass the eastern and central Gulf of Mexico, where most U.S. offshore oil and natural-gas facilities are located.

With that threat largely gone, traders turned their attention to Iran’s stand-off with the West over its nuclear program.

Full article here.

Ernesto and windbags of his ilk heading for the Gulf of Mexico likely should have a strong and more lasting impact on natural gas prices, given their local nature, but oil will do its dance largely to the tune of international political and economic maneuvers.