The headline from NBC News on Monday, April 20th was startling as it screamed: “U.S. crude oil futures for May plummet to minus $37 — lowest price in history.” And it was true, sort of. The truth is that May delivery of West Texas Intermediate crude oil – the U.S. benchmark crude oil – did close to a new low of minus $37.63/barrel by the time the market closed on Monday, April 20th. But the price of an actual barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil was not negative $37.63 – that was a futures contract. Let’s explore the differences.