Oil Prices and Market Volatility: Israel-Hamas Conflict Scenarios

In a world marked by geopolitical tensions and conflicts, the Israel-Hamas war has emerged as a significant concern. Recent estimations by EY’s chief economist, Greg Daco, have shed light on the potential economic repercussions of the Israel-Hamas conflict. Daco outlined three possible scenarios, ranging from the best-case to the most severe outcomes, each with distinct impacts on oil prices and market volatility. In this article, we will delve into these scenarios, exploring the implications and offering insights into the broader economic landscape.

Understanding the Israel-Hamas Conflict

Before we dive into the scenarios, it’s essential to understand the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict. The conflict’s origins, key players, and the current state of affairs are crucial factors that contribute to the economic forecasts.

The Genesis of the Conflict

The Israel-Hamas conflict traces its roots back decades, with historical disputes over territory and sovereignty. This deep-seated tension has periodically erupted into open conflict, affecting the lives of countless individuals in the region.

Key Players

Understanding the conflict’s key players, such as the Israeli government, Hamas, and the potential involvement of superpowers like the United States and Iran, is vital to assessing the severity of the situation.

Scenarios and Their Implications

Now, let’s explore the three scenarios presented by Greg Daco and their potential consequences on oil prices and market volatility.

Scenario 1: Best-Case Scenario

In the best-case scenario, oil prices see a modest rise, and market volatility experiences a slight uptick. How might this affect the global economy and financial markets?

While oil prices may only rise by $3 a barrel, it’s still a significant factor that warrants attention. The VIX, a market volatility measure, could increase by one basis point higher than initially forecasted over the next six months. Though this scenario is relatively contained, it’s essential to recognize its implications.

The slight uptick in oil prices may have limited effects on consumers and businesses, allowing for a gradual adaptation to the new price levels. A marginal increase in market volatility can be seen as part of the usual ebb and flow of financial markets, prompting investors to remain cautious but not panicked.

Scenario 2: Relatively Contained Scenario

In the second scenario, we see a slightly more elevated impact on both oil prices and market volatility. Understanding this scenario and its implications is essential for investors and policymakers alike.

Initially, oil prices may rise by $7 a barrel, which is more significant than the best-case scenario. However, this surge is expected to ease over time, settling at just $3 higher than the baseline price forecast. Meanwhile, the VIX will spike by five basis points in late 2023, eventually stabilizing at just one basis point higher than the baseline forecast by the end of next year.

This scenario calls for a more cautious approach from consumers and businesses. The relatively higher increase in oil prices could impact transportation costs and energy bills. Increased market volatility might lead to fluctuations in investment strategies, making it crucial for investors to diversify their portfolios and remain agile.

Scenario 3: Uncontained Scenario

The most severe scenario, the “uncontained scenario,” raises significant concerns. This scenario envisions a war escalation involving the United States, Iran, or both, which could have profound economic consequences.

In this scenario, oil prices could skyrocket immediately, increasing by $50 a barrel and potentially reaching a staggering $150 per barrel by late 2023. Market volatility, as measured by the VIX, could experience an 18-point spike.

The implications of this scenario are profound. The surge in oil prices could lead to higher energy costs, affecting both consumers and businesses. This, in turn, may trigger inflationary pressures, prompting central banks to consider policy adjustments. The sharp rise in market volatility could lead to abrupt shifts in investments, potentially causing financial distress.

Economic Implications and Global Consequences

Understanding the broader economic implications of these scenarios is vital for decision-makers, investors, and policymakers alike.

Economic Consequences

In the event of an uncontained scenario, the global economy may face a challenging period. A mild global recession is possible, with global real GDP growth falling by an estimated 1.4% through the end of the following year. Additionally, the world economy may shed approximately $2 trillion in value.

Financial Market Impact

Financial markets will likely be impacted as well. Stocks could potentially fall by as much as 20%, creating unease among investors. Simultaneously, the US dollar may strengthen by 10%, affecting international trade and exchange rates. These fluctuations can be especially daunting for businesses with international operations.

Inflationary Pressures

The surge in oil prices could result in increased energy costs, contributing to higher inflation rates. Global inflation may rise by 1.5 percentage points above EY’s baseline 2024 forecast due to these elevated energy prices. This scenario presents a complex challenge for central bankers, who must balance the need for economic stability with inflation management.

Central Banks and Policy Responses

Given the potential economic consequences outlined in the uncontained scenario, central banks are expected to respond. How might they navigate these turbulent waters?

Central banks, including the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, and Bank of England, are likely to tighten financial conditions. However, they may not slash interest rates to zero, as seen in previous crises. Instead, a more measured approach may be adopted, emphasizing stability over rapid rate cuts. This approach aligns with the “higher-for-longer” mantra, with central banks choosing to ease policy more gradually as they assess the evolving economic landscape.

Market Expectations and Investor Sentiment

Market expectations play a significant role in shaping the future economic landscape. Investors are closely watching the situation and making their assessments.

Currently, markets are anticipating the Federal Reserve to maintain high interest rates, driven by concerns about inflation. Investors are pricing in a 98% chance that rates will stay above 4% by the end of the following year, according to the CME FedWatch tool. This suggests that investors are cautious and prefer a hawkish approach from central banks.

The Israel-Hamas conflict presents a range of potential economic scenarios, each with distinct implications for oil prices, market volatility, and the global economy. Individuals, businesses, and policymakers must monitor the situation closely, adapt their strategies, and remain agile in response to changing conditions. By understanding the economic consequences of these scenarios and central banks’ potential responses, we can better prepare for the uncertainty that geopolitical conflicts bring. The path forward remains uncertain, but with prudent analysis and careful planning, we can navigate these turbulent waters and strive for economic stability in a volatile world.


FAQs on Oil Prices and Market Volatility Amid Israel-Hamas Conflict

  1. What is the Israel-Hamas conflict and why does it matter for oil prices and market volatility? The Israel-Hamas conflict is a long-standing dispute over territory and sovereignty in the Middle East. It matters for oil prices and market volatility because it can disrupt the global oil supply and create uncertainty in financial markets.
  2. What are the three scenarios outlined by EY’s chief economist, and how do they differ? EY’s chief economist outlines three scenarios: the best-case, relatively contained, and uncontained scenarios. They differ in the severity of the conflict and their impacts on oil prices and market volatility.
  3. What is the best-case scenario, and how would it affect the economy? In the best-case scenario, oil prices rise modestly, and market volatility experiences a slight uptick. This would have limited effects on the economy, with manageable increases in transportation costs and market fluctuations.
  4. What happens in the relatively contained scenario, and how would it impact businesses? In the relatively contained scenario, oil prices rise by a larger margin, but eventually stabilize. Businesses may face increased energy costs, prompting the need for careful financial planning and adaptation to market fluctuations.
  5. How severe is the uncontained scenario, and what are the potential global consequences? The uncontained scenario envisions a significant escalation in the conflict, leading to a sharp spike in oil prices and market volatility. Global consequences include a mild recession, falling GDP growth, and financial market turbulence.
  6. What is the likely response of central banks in the event of severe market disruptions? Central banks are expected to tighten financial conditions but may not reduce interest rates to zero. They are likely to adopt a measured approach, focusing on economic stability and gradual policy adjustments.
  7. How do market expectations and investor sentiment impact the situation? Market expectations play a crucial role in shaping economic outcomes. Investors currently expect central banks to maintain high interest rates, driven by concerns about inflation.
  8. What can individuals and businesses do to prepare for economic uncertainty during the conflict? Individuals and businesses should closely monitor the situation, adapt their strategies, and remain agile in response to changing conditions. Diversifying investment portfolios and financial planning are advisable.
  9. What is the significance of the “higher-for-longer” mantra for central banks? The “higher-for-longer” mantra suggests that central banks will maintain interest rates at elevated levels for an extended period. This approach prioritizes stability over rapid rate cuts.
  10. How can geopolitical conflicts like the Israel-Hamas war impact the global economic landscape? Geopolitical conflicts can disrupt global supply chains, create uncertainty, and influence economic decisions. Understanding these impacts is essential for navigating the challenges they present.


  1. Oil prices
  2. Market volatility
  3. Israel-Hamas conflict
  4. Geopolitical tensions
  5. EY chief economist
  6. Economic scenarios
  7. Central banks
  8. Financial markets
  9. Inflation
  10. Global economy




The conflict between Israel and Hamas is one of the most significant geopolitical events in the Middle East and one with a major potential to drive oil prices and cause market volatility. The conflict has direct implications for global energy markets due to its location in the heart of the oil-rich Persian Gulf. As the two sides battle over control, global oil supplies are put at risk. In addition, with both sides capable of launching rockets into each other’s respective territories, the risk of retaliation is ever-present. As a result, any progress (or lack thereof) in stopping hostilities can have a substantial impact on global markets – both positively and negatively.

Given this context, several potential scenarios could unfold from this conflict. Firstly, if an immediate ceasefire is agreed upon between Israel and Hamas, then oil prices will likely remain stable as markets will expect continued supplies from the areas affected by this conflict. Additionally, any lasting peace agreement could lead to increased investment in energy infrastructure in the region – further stabilizing oil prices and reducing market volatility. On the other hand, should hostilities continue or worsen then oil prices will likely rise due to disruptions to supply lines from the conflict zone – resulting in market volatility as traders react to changing news reports on developments. Finally, should either side launch more offensive measures (eg missile strikes) then markets may experience further volatility as investors try to gauge how much damage each side is capable of inflicting on its respective counterparts – and ultimately how much disruption this could cause to global energy supplies.

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