What a Barrel of Oil Won't Buy You - Gainesville Coins News
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What a Barrel of Oil Won't Buy You

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What a Barrel of Oil Won't Buy You

With crude oil prices now falling below $34 a barrel, it is an interesting exercise to consider some of the common products and services that are currently more expensive than the value of that one barrel of oil. This helps put into perspective just how bad the price crash has been for what was once the world's most important commodity.

barrel of oil Shell-oil-drumIt begins to make you think: What else can one buy for the cost of a drum of oil?

Here is a brief list of commonplace consumer goods or services that are more expensive than a barrel of crude oil.

(For reference, one standard barrel of oil holds 42 gallons, or 159 liters.)

  • 8 pints (1 gallon) of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream: $36.00

Yes, a single gallon of ice cream costs more than 42 times as much crude oil. At least it tastes better.

  • Dinner for two at Red Lobster: $41.00

One barrel of oil doesn't cover a simple dinner for two at a family restaurant like Red Lobster.

  • One empty 30-gallon drum: $54.00

Ouch. Even the container (and one that is too small, no less) is more expensive than the oil it holds.

  • One empty 5-gallon Gatorade cooler: $80.00

The staff of a sports team spends more than twice as much on a single Gatorade cooler as they would on a barrel of oil.

  • One keg (15.5 gallons) of Budweiser: $103.00

Okay, maybe this one is not as hard to believe. It costs more to host a party than to fill your tank.

  • One “nosebleed” seat at Wrigley Field to watch the Cubs play the Reds on the 4th of July: $49.00

This does not even include a hot dog and a drink. However, the right to complain on the way home when the Cubs lose is included in the admission price.

  • One 1.5-liter bottle of Jack Daniel’s Black whiskey: $35.00

If you ask most elderly men which they would rather have—the oil or the whiskey—the choice is an easy one.

  • 16 pc. meal with 4 large sides & 8 biscuits at KFC: $35.99

Colonel Sanders cannot feed your family for less than a barrel of oil, but the gravy is about as thick.

  • Pair of children’s Converse Chuck Taylor shoes: $35.00

Your kids can probably run ten marathons before these shoes wear out. Getting your car to drive that distance on the amount of fuel from one barrel of oil (about 19 gallons of gas) is less probable.

  • C9 Champion - Men's full zip hoodie from Target: $39.99

If you want to stay warm, this is still the better option than burning that oil.

  • 1-gallon bottle of Spartan Xtraction carpet cleaner: $37.99

Who would have thought that cleaning carpets would be more expensive that a barrel of oil? This stuff better get an oil spill out of the fabric at that price.

  • 27 pc. box of Godiva chocolates: $36.00

Your Valentine's Day gift for your sweetheart could run you more than 42 gallons of crude oil. Now that you know, you should probably avoid pointing this out to him/her, or just get roses instead.

  • Paw Patrol 12" rolling backpack from JC Penney: $36.00

To be fair, if oil drums came with little wheels at the bottom, too, the prices would probably be equal.

  • One men's flannel shirt from L.L. Bean: $45.00

Weird thought: if you could power machinery by burning flannel shirts (instead of oil), it no longer makes financial sense.

  • HearthSong inflatable water slide: $38.59

Try explaining to your kids why their favorite summer activity is less useful than fueling the global economy.

  • Intex Jr. Jump-O-Lene Castle bouncer (for kids): $39.97

Go ahead, try and explain it to them! We all know their answer to, "What would you rather have: heating and power, or something called a 'Jump-O-Lene'?"

  • Box of Pampers Swaddlers diapers, economy pack: $35.77

This speaks for itself.


Does this merely show that the prices for these various goods are being affected by inflation far faster than prices in other sectors of the economy are? Perhaps. So much for the nickname "liquid gold"!


The opinions and forecasts herein are provided solely for informational purposes, and should not be used or construed as an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell any product.

About the Author

Everett Millman

Everett Millman

Analyst, Commodities and Finance
Managing Editor

Everett has been the head content writer and market analyst at Gainesville Coins since 2013. He has a background in History and is deeply interested in how gold and silver have historically fit into the financial system.

In addition to blogging, Everett's work has been featured in CoinWeek, Advisor Perspectives, Wealth Management, Activist Post, and has been referenced by the Washington Post.

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