I think this chart has a lot to do with it. There comes a point where a society can't afford the costs of energy to keep the lights on, and that's nice to express in energy vs. GDP. We're again at the trigger point.
WIthout a doubt Iran is an issue, and it's worth considering in some detail. Game theory!
1) Israel can't tolerate a nuclear Iran, as they effectively will lose all clout in the region. A nuclear Israel can dominate a non- nuclear Iran and by default the rest of the area, but they can't dominate a nuclear equipped Iran at all. The issue is simple geography, and the fact that Iran is too big a country and too sparsely populated to clobber with tactical nukes. Israel, however, is a dinky little country and a couple of missiles could snuff out the whole place, permanently. All other issues apply, of course, as economics and whatever, and there's no winning in this situation, but there's definite "losing" that some will insure to avoid. You can expect that Israel will hit Iran soon.
2) The US wants to avoid this conflict as they've got no winning position either, and are going to try to pretend to not be involved as long as possible. Of course it was key that the US vacate Iraq ahead of prudent schedule, as any strike from Israel would have to come through US controlled airspace if we were still there, and would look to the world community as obvious cooperation.
3) Still, there's an expectation that if things get really ugly after the airstrike that the US will have to step up and open up the Straits of Hormuz or whatever-- supposedly in the role of defending international waters or whatever BS we dream up. We're hoping to do that as some kind of international "peace-keeping" effort. Enter now the non-trivial chance that Ron Paul could win a Republican nomination or mount a serious third party run. Ron Paul as elected would tell Israel to go screw themselves and handle their own problems-- and imagine the leverage such a non-interference candidate like Paul might have during a presidential election running against yet another unpopular, unaffordable, irresponsible conflict. Obviously, in this context, a strike must come very soon hoping that the mess and public ire can be mopped up before the elections get started in earnest, or they'll have to wait for some time. Israel won't wait.
So sure, you can bet we'll be slugging it out with Iran by summer, and probably before, as the desert is hard on our military in summer and we'd rather pound it out earlier. There's no reason to wait at all. It's not like the decision hasn't been made, obviously, conspicuously.
So sure, oil is likely to break the 200 dollar mark by summer, in this context. Even the anticipation of this conflict will affect futures.
Global recession is in the cards.
Hawaii especially is heavily burdened by fuel cost already, and we see the effects. The amount of local GDP that gets lost with increases in fuel is pretty shocking-- even now a lot of people have a hard time affording to go about daily business. The issue is equally difficult for the state and budgetary issues will likely be worse. All in all it bodes pretty poorly, immediately. Calling timing in these sorts of things is always difficult but you can generally expect that events happen when those that need them to happen want to. And that time is now, unfortunately.
Ironically, new sanctions signed here Saturday.