Greg Mankiw has an interesting perspective on oil prices.

Below is the price of oil relative to wages. Roughly, the graph shows the number of hours a production worker needs to work to make enough to buy one barrel of crude oil. What is most striking to me how little long-term trend there is (despite great volatility) and that the current level is very much normal by historical standards.

oil price


I suspect the lack of a trend has to do with the fact that this measurement is factoring in a single nation’s wages against a global commodity. While the American economy is a powerful mover in the global economy, it is not all of it.