Is the Price of Gas the Only Economic Indicator that Matters?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The average gas price in the U.S. is $3.81. (Mike Bitzenhofer/flickr)

Most economic indicators point to America being on the upswing in 2012. The stock market is up. Unemployment is down. And the strains in the global financial markets have eased. Yet 59 percent of voters rate President Obama negatively when it comes to the economy, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll.

Could it be because of the one economic indicator that’s stubbornly not improving: gas prices?

Joe Nocera is a columnist for our partner The New York Times.

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer


Joe Nocera

Comments [3]

In 2008, our high gasoline prices were predicated on the $140 per bbl crude ($3.25/gal for the crude alone). If Bush had even threatened to release oil from the strategic reserve he could have snapped the feeding frenzy in the bud. If he had it to do again, would Dubya stand on his freemarket beliefs? Crude is now under $110/bbl yet gasoline prices are again nudging $4. Why is that? Tension in Iran? Japan shuttering their nuclear plants? Nope. This would have pushed world oil higher. American domestic oil production is higher than any time since 2005. Also, American drivers are using 4% less gasoline than a year ago. So what is causing our current price surge? How about the fact the 5% of gasoline refining capacity has gone offline (old plants are too expensive to operate or so they say) and a large percentage of the gasoline that we produce has been contracted for purchase by the Chinese. (Our cheap natural gas, necessary for the cracking for crude into gasoline, makes us the low-cost supplier). I suppose the President could order some refinereies back online but oh how the Right would howl. Get some facts before you try to pin this on Obama. You wanna bring down short term prices? Try to get every driver in a car that gets less than 25 mpg to carpool for the next month. Good luck.

Mar. 17 2012 11:59 PM

I understood the message that The Takeaway was trying to send with this story: "The economy is doing pretty good, and the only bad thing is high gas prices, which are beyond any President's control, so if the Obama poll numbers are falling, it must be because poll respondents are stupid." I got that message, and it seemed as though both Celeste and Joe Nocera were pretty determined to tag-team us on making sure that the message got through.

No sooner had this segment aired, when this was posted on the Weekly Standard's website:

Some of us recall the 2008 campaign, when Barack Obama was blaming the Bush Administration for high gasoline prices. Which is not just funny in hindsight; it was pretty funny at the time, when Obama was singing the tune as called by the high priests of global warming, for whom no gasoline price is ever too high, since gasoline is killing the planet, right? And at that time, Obama (being not so fundamentally stupid himself that he failed to realize that he needed to thread the needle on that issue) said that he'd prefer to see higher prices that discouraged more gasoline usage, but that he'd like to see "gradual" increases that wouldn't shock consumers.

Just maybe, people are getting sick and tired of the fundamental dishonesty and two-faced mendacity of the Current Occupant of our White House. Maybe people are, in growing numbers, thinking that the exploding budget-bustig numbers of ObamaCare aren't worth it and we need to repeal it. And that Obama can't speak out of both sides of his mouth on oil production, and that he is not, after all, very serious about cutting federal government spending which is setting new ever-more-unimaginable deficit records every month.

Maybe the poll respondents aren't so stupid after all.

Mar. 14 2012 03:55 PM
carl, queens, n.y.

many blame pres. obama for high gas prices... it's our previous presidents fault... when gas was dirt cheap, i suggested to presidents, energy secs, oleary,browner,etc., to raise gas taxes by 10 or 15 cents a gallon... use the billions for r and d, to universities, corps., etc... perhaps today, we would be using an energy sorce that we never even herd of... by raising taxes then, we would have dicouraged oil producers from raising prices, cut unnecisary driving, cut pollution, discouraged gas guzzlers, etc.... i called it ''subtraction by addition''... we add to the price of gas, then we watch the price fall as demand deminishes because of the new alternitives on the market.... forgive poor spelling

Mar. 14 2012 07:23 AM

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