Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Oil prices and demand

I was watching CNBC earlier and they were talking about the price of crude oil dropping, due to decreased demand.  They couldn't seem to understand why demand wasn't there.

I'm sure the people working for the network have plenty of money, so maybe they don't realize how difficult it is for many people to buy gasoline, heat their houses, etc., and eat, pay bills, etc.?

When the price of gasoline goes higher, I'm less likely to buy.  I'll hold on for a while until I really need to fill the tank.  If I'm away from the town where I live, I can often choose a location with cheaper gasoline or head to a Sam's Club with gasoline.

Of course, once the price of gasoline bottoms (at ever higher prices) and people fill their tanks, the government will report that demand is up, and the vultures will buy oil and gasoline futures again, driving prices up.

I'm thinking that the refiners aren't making huge profits this time, as they were the last couple of years.  I looked back at 2008 and oil (West Texas Crude/Intermediate?) was about $100 per barrel and the price of regular unleaded was running me about $4.15 and 9/10.  (Why are we still doing the 9/10 after all these years?  The stock market finally dropped fractions.  Of course, there was that short-lived change to liters in the 1980s.)  It wasn't that long ago we were over $4.00 per gallon but the price of a barrel of oil was relatively low.

I'm all for companies making a profit and paying their employees well, but why do they need to be pigs, messing with people's lives?  They know that some people need to drive to make money and that their pay check isn't going to increase with the price of gasoline.  It seems as though the U.S. government removing price controls really caused a lot of problems for us all, and free-r enterprise hasn't justified their changes, nor given us the mentioned benefits of increased competition.

Update: 2013.09.02: Funny how we've been through a period where they said that the demand was the lowest since the 1980s (we were struggling then, too) and yet, the prices continue to be high.   Since I've switched to diesel fuel, I'm less likely to be affected since the price doesn't fluctuate much.  Even in California, the price wasn't abnormally high but finding a station with diesel was another matter.  It's easier to find during the road trip than in a neighborhood.

As an aside, I was watching an Indianapolis news station talk about the state's unemployment rate being up a bit, somewhere in the 8.x% area.  There was no mention of the people who aren't receiving unemployment compensation, and those who have given up at all.  Indiana was an unemployment mess in the 1980s but at least, it was more honest about the reality of the situation then.  We knew that those jobs weren't returning.  There was also something on that same station about a union-related picnic and the people who talked just didn't get it.  The unions (IBEW and UAW and Steelworkers) have been responsible for many factories closing in the rust belt, but they take no responsibility, and compromise is still not an option to them.

Too many times now, the choice of food or fuel isn't a 50-50 question for those who work.  They have to go to work, and in small towns, it's not likely they can ride a bus.  In this town, you could walk, but they didn't add sidewalks in most areas since the 1950s.  Even during the expansion of U.S. 40, they left out sidewalks, as though people in wheelchairs could just slog through the mud and snow.  Where we have sidewalks, they finally finished the mandated wheelchair mini-ramps at corners.  Odd that I remember Philadelphia finishing that work in 1996.

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