Listen, people: Donald Trump has had enough of rising oil prices, ok?
Watching the President become increasingly exasperated at a commodity which, by virtue of being a commodity and thus not sentient and not capable of having a sense of purpose, has been nothing short of hilarious.
Trump likes to imagine that the combination of his "legendary" dealmaking prowess and the power inherent in the office he holds should by all rights be sufficient to subjugate everyone and everything on the planet to his agenda.
And look, he's not entirely wrong about that. Everyone who insisted prior to the inauguration that there was simply no way Congress, let alone foreign powers, would bow at his feet has been proven incorrect on any number of occasions.
But it looks like he might have met his Waterloo with oil. Technically speaking, Trump's own policies are at least partially responsible for rising prices. His hardline stance on Iran is adding to supply jitters at a time when Venezuela is rapidly descending into failed state status. Although he did manage to badger the Saudis into marshaling support within OPEC and with Russia for a production hike in the back half of the year, the threat of lost Iranian barrels has largely offset the cartel's promise to increase supply - or at least in the mind of the market.
More broadly, though, the problem for Trump when it comes to "negotiating" with oil is that because oil is not a person, it cannot be bullied. It doesn't "listen" to Trump because oil doesn't have working ears.
So, with angry phone calls to King Salman having failed to arrest rising prices and with oil stubbornly refusing to listen to all-caps tweets, Trump is apparently considering tapping the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Here's Bloomberg:
The Trump administration is actively considering tapping into the nation’s emergency supply of crude oil as political pressure grows to rein in rising gasoline prices before congressional elections in November, two people familiar with the situation said.
The national unleaded average gasoline price rose to $2.89 Friday, an increase of 63 cents from where it was a year ago, according to data from AAA. The U.S. gasoline price average is expected to range between $2.85 per gallon and $3.05 per gallon through Labor Day, according to the group.
A release of crude oil in September or October could cut gasoline prices for consumers ahead of November mid-term elections.
Is it a good idea to effectively declare a national emergency just because gas prices are nearly $3? Well, probably not.
I mean, this would hardly be the first time an official has resorted to questionable methods in the interest of political expediency, but what's notable is the extent to which Trump is demonstrating a creeping tendency to cite "national security" and "emergencies" in order to further his agenda. The metals tariffs and the proposed duties on auto imports are other examples of that same "strategy".
The irony in all of this is that crude is set for its second weekly decline, having plunged earlier this week after the administration's latest shot across the bow in the trade wars. The prospect of the U.S. slapping tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods raised the specter of demand destruction and that catalyzed the worst day for commodities since 2014 on Wednesday, with oil leading losses.
So if Trump is serious about driving crude prices lower, he could always just scrap the SPR idea and declare that starting next month, the U.S. will implement across-the-board tariffs on all imports from all trade partners on the way to triggering a global recession.
That's a "stable genius" idea if I've ever heard one.