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Back to the new normal

Judging by history, and reflecting rampant supply, tepid demand and a passive Opec, $50 oil is about where the price belongs

It's time to stop muttering about the oil-price crash and time to stop talking about a recovery. The terms imply that oil prices should be higher. They shouldn't. A better term is the oil-price return or, to pluck from the economist's lexicon, the reversion to the mean. An oil price at $45-50 a barrel-its level since the beginning of September-is neither high nor low. It's pretty much normal. Between the Second World War and the end of 2014, the mean price of oil, adjusted for inflation, has been $41/b. Between 1974, the first full year to feel the impact of Opec power, and 2014, when Opec power vanished, the real price of oil has averaged $54/b. That historical range-$41-54/b-neatly coinc

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