Biden’s ban on Russian imports means $150 per barrel of oil, a $5 gallon of gas or higher, and a 1 in 3 recession risk: Moody’s

March 8, 2022, 8:58 PM UTC

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could mean oil prices as high as $150 per barrel and a one in three risk of recession in the U.S., Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi said on Tuesday

“It’s a big surprise to me that the U.S. and others are self-sanctioning Russian oil. Over 3 million barrels a day of Russian oil needs to be replaced, fast,” Zandi said. “The Saudis and UAE have excess capacity, and there is Iranian oil. U.S. frackers will kick in. But all this will take time.” 

If his prediction is correct, oil’s rise could mean sustained gas prices above $5 a gallon in the U.S., the economist noted. That coupled with a nearly 5 percentage point jump in the risk of recession from December’s 27.8% figure has Zandi worried.

In a speech this morning announcing a ban on Russian oil imports, President Biden warned Americans of higher prices ahead as well. “With this action, it (oil) is going to go up further,” he said, calling the rising gas prices “Putin’s price hike.”

“Russia’s aggression has cost us all, and it’s no time for profiteering or price gouging,” the president added in a warning to gas stations seeking to profit off of the announcement.

What does a high oil price mean for inflation?

Zandi, who had predicted inflation would fall if COVID-19 continued its retreat back in late 2021, changed his tune on the threat of rising consumer prices this week, arguing darker days are ahead. Inflation expectations threaten “to become unhinged” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said.

The Moody’s economist pointed to the 5-year breakeven inflation rate, a measure of what market participants expect inflation to be in the next five years, as evidence for his claim after the figure hit a record high of 3.29% on Monday.

Zandi wasn’t the only energy market expert predicting $150 per barrel oil on Tuesday, either. Occidental Petroleum Corp.’s CEO Vicki Hollub said she sees Brent crude oil prices, the international benchmark, rising to $150 per barrel as the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues.

David Rundell, who served as an American diplomat for 30 years in the Middle East, previously told Fortune that the deteriorating state of diplomatic affairs with Saudi leaders is only adding to the gloomy story for U.S. energy costs. The diplomat went even further than Zandi with a prediction that $6 per gallon gas could be in the cards for U.S. consumers over the coming year as geopolitical tensions mount.

Never miss a story: Follow your favorite topics and authors to get a personalized email with the journalism that matters most to you.