This curve is anything but flat: The history of fluctuating oil prices

Latest downturn is unprecedented, but history shows oil prices will rise again

Stock image/Naomi Baker
Stock image/Naomi Baker (Getty)

Historically, oil prices have gone on quite a roller coaster ride.

The downward portions may not be as extreme as what’s transpired in recent days, when the price of a barrel of oil plummeted to $11.36 as of Tuesday, but the price of oil has gone up and down like a yo-yo for decades, for various reasons.

Here’s a summary of the wild ride of oil prices as broken down by decade over the past 70 years, according to Macrotrends.

Note: The reported prices below are figures adjusted for rate of inflation.

1950s and 1960s: A flat curve

There wasn’t a whole lot of fluctuation in this time period of the Baby Boomers.

In 1950, the price per barrel was $28.23. In 1960, the price started off at $26.16. By the time the ’60s ended, the price fell to $22.87 in January 1970.


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