Monday, December 01, 2008

On the Road Again: Gas Giants

I may be the last person in America to do so, but I finally filled up the tank of the Insight with gas under two bucks. That's a downside of a fuel-efficient hybrid, but one I'm willing to live with.

Gas prices have been moving downward throughout the summer, affected by mysterious forces that us mere mortals cannot understand. Despite a major hurricane hit in the Gulf, they continued down, and continued to plummet even after the November election.

When the prices were going up, there was always some storm, war, or general excuse to the excessive prices. Now that prices are sinking, specifics are avoided, and the plummet seems to be treated as proof by the media of how bad the economy is.

Yes, this is this year's fashion for economic reporting - falling prices are bad news. Now you can fill your tank, but look at all the collateral damage! The economy is tanking worldwide now. Alaska can no longer pay people to live there. Alternate energy sources are now hampered because they are too expensive.

This, by the way, is Grubb's Law of Economic Reporting: Whatever happens, it is bad for YOU. In front of every civil lining is this big dark cloud.

Of course, now is a good time to revisit all the excuses made before and see how the situation has changed to make this price-plummet happen. The Mideast remains as unstable as a breakfast burrito topped by two diet cokes. The gulf continues to churn out hurricanes. Peak oil has still peaked. Demand has not evaporated. Yet gas prices have continued to tumble.

Of course, it could be that prices were set not so much from supply and demand but from consumer panic and corporate gouging, and the gas giants have finally run out of mattress space to stash their profits. Or have seen the effects of their profits ricochet through the rest of the economy in higher prices for, well, everything.

But that would just be cynical. Better to tank up and feel guilty that your modest bargains are a reflection of a wounded economy. Hope you're happy.

More later,

Rainfall on Grubbstreet since November 1: 3.125 inches