Coming out of the recession, investment in energy, oil and natural gas—fracking in particular—helped increase investment spending in the U.S. High oil prices provided the cushion pioneering companies engaged in this activity needed in order to deploy this novel approach to extracting oil. As production volumes increased, producers learned how to increase efficiency and lower their costs. Other commodity prices, such as for coal and agricultural goods also remained high, which helped support investment in production equipment as well as in equipment to transport the growing volumes.
Analysts generally consider rising inventory-to-sales ratios as an ominous indicator of economic contraction. But for the last five years, this variable has proved to be a false signal.