Overcast still going on into the late afternoon here on California’s north coast, with some added patchy ground fog, only sunshine so far a hazy, faded-yellow glare shifting the gray every so often — a damp, shoreline chill, too, added to the mix.
One item I haven’t been keeping up with in the last weeks is oil — sold the Jeep in January, and since then, have been on two-feet transport, with no longer a direct, personal link to liquid crude via gas-pump prices, the subject matter eased off my news priority list, down a few slots to maybe somewhere above Sarah Palin.
(Illustration: An oil-pump ‘horse,’ found here).
Maybe along with a lot of other people, but prices have now seemingly climbed out of the root cellar, price at the pump at the 76 station I used to visit with the Jeep stands today at $3.29 a gallon for regular, same gas is two-cents cheaper a gallon in Eureka, 10-12 miles south.
In January, the last time I fueled the Jeep, going was downward (via FuelGaugeReport): ‘The national average continues to march toward $2.00 per gallon and has fallen for a record 123 consecutive days, for a total savings of $1.31 per gallon. Today’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.03 per gallon. Motorists are paying three cents less than one week ago, 27 cents less than one month ago and saving $1.25 per gallon in comparison to this same date last year.’
Back to reality.
Via Cars.com on Friday: ‘The AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report said the national average for regular unleaded Thursday was $2.58, an increase of 9 cents in the past week and the highest it’s been since mid-December.’
Oil prices are reflected at the pump, and the shit-source is climbing back upwards, but still down yonder. From Business Recorder also on Friday: ‘Brent North Sea crude for June delivery lost 42 cents to stand at $66.36 a barrel in London just after midday. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for delivery in June shed 11 cents to $59.52 a barrel.’
Oil crashed and burned in 2014, leading to the subsequent downfall of prices at the pump, which was supposed to ease the purse strings of Americans, and in turn, pump-up the economy. Less to spend on transport, more to spend on other shit — not so fast there, buddy.
Last week, the numbers don’t show it: ‘Gross domestic product expanded at an only 0.2 percent annual rate, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. That was a big step down from the fourth quarter’s 2.2 percent pace and marked the weakest reading in a year.‘
‘Anemic’ proclaimed one business-news headline on the report.
Instead of a boom, a slowdown. A look at the situation from The Economist on Friday:
Net exports (ie, exports minus imports) have certainly been boosted by the lower oil price.
America exports very little oil, but imports a lot: about 9m barrels a day.
With the oil price roughly $60 below its peak, Americans now send $500m less abroad every day—or about $200 billion a year.
Add to this the lower price of domestically produced oil, and Americans have received a windfall, akin to a juicy tax cut.
That cash could be spent or invested at home.
But consumers are reluctant to splash out, perhaps because wage growth has been so miserable.
The monthly growth rate of retail sales — not including those at petrol stations—has stumbled in the past few months.
Investment in mining structures shrank at a 60 percent annualised rate in the first quarter of 2015, says Capital Economics, a consultancy — enough to subtract 0.8 percent from overall GDP growth.
Lower investment goes hand-in-hand with job cuts.
In March Texas, an oil state that in recent years has seen rapid job growth, saw its largest month-on-month drop since 2009.
In the past few weeks, however, the oil price has stopped falling, so this deflationary effect is wearing off.
Economists are left wondering how what seemed like such a big bonus for the American economy could have had so little effect.
When ‘experts‘ are baffled, shit ain’t good…