Here it is, the first week in May, and finally we have the whinging and melodrama that I usually associate with March or April (see, for example, the KP archives from March 2004, with lots of gasoline posts): record high gas prices!.
Just two weeks ago, the U.S. average for a gallon of regular gas was $2.87, but the Lundberg Survey of 7,000 stations nationwide on Friday showed an increase of about 19.5 cents to $3.07. That’s up 88.4 cents since Jan. 19, Lundberg said.
The nationwide average for mid-grade gasoline was $3.18 and premium was $3.28. …
The recent increases are due mostly to refinery problems, Lundberg said, noting there have been at least a dozen additional partial shutdowns in the U.S. and internationally that cut refining capacity.
OK, let’s review … adjusting for inflation, the current nominal price of gasoline would have to be about $5/gallon to be higher than the price at its historical high in 1981. This does not change the fact that prices are in the high range of historical prices, or that these high prices can be difficult for those with long commutes. But please, use the language precisely. I’m convinced that most media outlets do not understand the concept of a GDP deflator. Don’t be that guy that’s clueless about the GDP deflator.
I can’t believe that I missed this study from the University of Illinois in October 2006:
As American waistlines have expanded since 1960, so has their consumption of gasoline, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Virginia Commonwealth University say.
Americans are now pumping 938 million gallons of fuel more annually than they were in 1960 as a result of extra weight in vehicles. And when gas prices average $3 a gallon, the tab for overweight people in a vehicle amounts to $7.7 million a day, or $2.8 billion a year.
All the more reason to ride your bike to work; if you ride your bike and lose weight, you’ll be able to buy less gas when you do drive! I do think this is an interesting result in aggregate, but of course the challenge is that each individual is not really going to notice that much of a change in their gasoline spending as their weight goes up.