Tags: Ross | oil | consumers | Fed

Wilbur Ross: Oil Price Plunge Great for US Consumers

By    |   Friday, 20 March 2015 10:00 AM

Oil has plummeted 60 percent since late June, falling to a six-year low of $42.75 a barrel Thursday amid sluggish demand and bountiful supply.
For that we consumers can be thankful, says star investor Wilbur Ross, CEO of WL Ross.
"I think it probably puts in the American consumer's pocket something like $90 a month for each family," Ross told CNBC.
"While that may not sound like a lot, it really is, because there are an awful lot of folks who live payroll-to-payroll. So putting $90 more cash [into their pockets] is a good thing."
He says the lower price of oil is also good for the developed world. "The U.S., despite all the shale, is still a net importer, so are most of the European countries and certainly so is China and so is Japan," Ross noted.
"You have already seen sales of the heavier fuel-guzzling vehicles — the SUVs and the light trucks — get very strong, once the gasoline prices at the pump went below $3."
On the issue of when exactly the Federal Reserve will begin raising interest rates, Ross doesn't see it as that big a deal.
"I think there is way too much focus on whether they raise it a little bit in June, or they do it in September," he said. "I think in the scheme of things it doesn't really make that much difference."
After the Fed's policy statement Wednesday, many economists extended their forecast of when the Fed will move to September from June. The central bank has kept its federal funds rate target at a record low of zero to 0.25 percent since December 2008.
John Canally, chief economic strategist at LPL Financial, is one who expects the Fed to act in September. "There's not enough time between now and June to say inflation expectations have bottomed out, which probably pushes you out to September," he told Bloomberg.
"The [Fed's] statement about the economy softening a bit raises the market's awareness that the economy is underperforming where the Fed wants it to be, which pushes them out."
Most Fed policymakers predicted GDP growth will range from 2.3 to 2.7 percent this year, down from their forecast of 2.6 to 3.0 percent in December. The inflation forecast slid to 0.6 to 0.8 percent from 1.0 to 1.6 percent.
"What was unexpected is that their expectations for growth in the economy came down, as did their expectation for inflation," Kevin Caron, a market strategist at Stifel Nicolaus, told Bloomberg.

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Oil has plummeted 60 percent since late June, falling to a six-year low of $42.75 a barrel Thursday amid sluggish demand and bountiful supply.
Ross, oil, consumers, Fed
Friday, 20 March 2015 10:00 AM
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