Given the presumed 17% expansion of the global economy since 2009, the tiny increases in production could not possibly flood the world in oil unless demand has cratered.
The term Black Swan shows up in all sorts of discussions, but what does it actually mean? Though the term has roots stretching back to the 16th century, today it refers to author Nassim Taleb's meaning as defined in his books, Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets and The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable:
"First, it is an outlier, as it lies outside the realm of regular expectations, because nothing in the past can convincingly point to its possibility.
Second, it carries an extreme 'impact'.
Third, in spite of its outlier status, human nature makes us concoct explanations for its occurrence after the fact, making it explainable and predictable."
Simply put, black swans are undirected and unpredicted. The Wikipedia entry lists three criteria based on Taleb's work:
1. The event is a surprise (to the observer).2. The event has a major effect.3. After the first recorded instance of the event, it is rationalized by hindsight, as if it could have been expected; that is, the relevant data were available but unaccounted for in risk mitigation programs.
I think we can fairly conclude that this free-fall in the price of oil qualifies as an outlier outside the realm of regular expectations, unpredicted and unpredictable.
But the current global recession did not result from an oil spike. Indeed, oil prices have been trading in a narrow band for several years, as we can see in this chart from the Energy Information Agency (EIA) of the U.S. government.
Given the official denial that the global economy is recessionary, it is not surprising that the free-fall in oil surprised the official class of analysts and pundits. Since declaring the global economy is in recession is sacrilege, it was impossible for conventional analysts/pundits to foresee a 37% drop in oil in a few months.
Every sustained action has more than one consequence. Some consequences will appear positive for a time before revealing their destructive nature. Some will be foreseeable, some will not. Some will be controllable, some will not. Those that are unforeseen and uncontrollable will trigger waves of other unforeseen and uncontrollable consequences."