Which Vehicle Is Best for a Long Bet on Oil?

Includes: OIL, USO
by: Chris Uhlir

What's the biggest payoff ratio for a long oil bet?

My arguments are simple supply and demand factors such as:

  1. Demand is only one way in the long term, given China and India's economic growth and the human population's growth in general.
  2. Alternatives to gas and oil are not really economically feasible yet (read: orders of magnitude differences to overcome still).
  3. Unmitigated worldwide long-term demand for the luxury of transporting millions of tons of humans and products across the globe for travel and trade in goods and foodstuffs (financial crisis be damned).
  4. Peak oil has apparently arrived in the form of declining output in numerous majors such as Mexico's Cantrell oil field and the North Sea.
  5. |The U.S. government's stupidity in not allowing serious potential to be developed in the "homeland" (talk about Homeland Security getting something right!).
  6. OPEC's continuing cuts in production and the apparent willingness to stick to it (quite contrary to an individual country's best interest).
  7. I still choose to drive a huge van (albeit "mini") 50 miles per day commuting!

From a glossary of Futures: If the hedger will need the commodity in the future, he will hedge by buying calls.

I certainly will be needing oil in the future to get to my J-O-B!

I have been reading here on the contango vs. backwardation cycles and what type of markets (flush vs. tight) produce which type of pricing structure. Very interesting, because ETFs based on the same commodity produce very different annual rates of return as a result of a difference in the volume of near-term vs. long-term contracts that are bought and sold. And here I thought ETFs were simple. Ha!

ASIDE: At this juncture I must admit to losing a huge percentage, but small nominal dollar amount, in DXD which has behaved as it should. This investing thing is making me feel foolish given the market's exuberance in the face of terrible fundamentals such as rising UE and worldwide deflationary forces everywhere in prices (see ISM) pointing towards a meltdown in CRMs and close behind insurance company earnings, not to mention another wave of Alt As (whatever those are!?) and ARMs.

So I ask for your opinions... what vehicle is the best bet for long term oil bets? My guess is calls.