Friday, May 22, 2009

Gas prices up just in time to screw our summer.

This past winter was horrible. Let's just admit it. We all feared being fired/laid off. Many friends and family have been laid off, have lost their homes, have had to go back to work and have had to scale back overall. Then there's the weather. Here in the Midwest, where you can expect rough weather, it was particularly bad this year. Snow every other day, no sun and below normal cold I said, worse than usual.

So, now that summer is approaching, you can tell people are trying to find some positive in their lives. Better weather, getting in shape, grilling outside, hanging out, maybe traveling. Happiness and health, right?! Well, you might want to pop another Prozac because big oil companies aren't ready for you to pick yourself up and enjoy life again...

Gas prices have increased dramatically in the past 2 weeks (leading up to Memorial Day).

On Thursday, a gallon of unleaded averaged $2.36. That's much cheaper than the $3.80 it cost this time last year, but prices are still up about 30 cents a gallon this month, enough to make drivers flinch.

I can personally attest that gas was $2.14 2 weeks ago and is now around $2.75, so that's a 1/3 increase, much larger than the "average." What I love about these articles that justify "it's only an extra $0.30 a gallon" aren't honest about the situation most Americans are in: the worst economy since the Great Depression and an extra $20 a month ($.30 x 16 gallon tank x 4 weeks, conservative if you consider most metro commutes) isn't a big deal. Honestly, that's $20 less being injected into the economy via shopping!

Gas is no exception. For much of this year, there has been a glut of gasoline in storage around the country, keeping prices low. And demand has been light because of the poor economy. But gasoline has jumped in May. Oil refineries, trying to make money just like any other business, are taking in less oil because of the glut in gas, and those cutbacks are showing up at the pump.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but aren't oil companies and refineries one of the few industries making profits these days? Aren't they having booming times? I must've missed the newspaper headline announcing Exxon, BP and Amaco layoffs...

The real reason for the recent gas hike? Big oil greed, as usual:
Investing momentum feeds on itself, and government data suggests speculative trades are on the rise, meaning people are buying in simply because they know they can sell for a quick profit. 'There's no lack of gasoline right now or the lack of ability to produce it, and anyone who says speculators are not playing a role in this run is delusional,' said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service. The same thing happened last year, to a much greater extent. Because when the Wall Street crisis struck and the economy tanked, oil prices collapsed. Gas fell to $1.61 by the end of the year.

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