Monday, September 12, 2011

U.S. motorists on pace to spend record amount on gasoline this year

by Bill McBride on 9/12/2011 07:37:00 PM

Note: I checked the BEA data (table Table 2.4.5U. Personal Consumption Expenditures by Type of Product), and the BEA shows U.S. consumers spent $377 billion in 2008 on "Gasoline and other motor fuel", and are on pace to spend $393 billion this year. So the headline number might be too high - also, as a percent of GDP, gasoline expenditures will be lower this year than in 2008.

From Ronald White at the LA Times: U.S. motorists may spend a record $491 billion for gasoline this year

Fuel prices have been high this year because of expensive oil and increased exports of gasoline and diesel to other countries. Gasoline prices may decline for a few weeks after the switch to winter blends, which are less costly to produce than summer blends. But gas price woes won't go away, experts said.

"The 30 days between now and mid-October will be the most hospitable days in the country for dropping prices," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. "But then the drumbeats will start about fears of a second Arab Spring [of political unrest]. Demand outside of Europe and the U.S. continues to rise. By spring, Americans will be wrestling with $4 gasoline in a lot of markets."
...
Both the U.S. and California averages were well short of the all-time highs set in 2008 of $4.114 and $4.588, respectively. But overall, drivers have shelled out more for fuel this year than in 2008 because prices rose faster this time and have stayed high longer.

The 2008 average U.S. price was about $3.25 a gallon, said Kloza, who came up with the estimate of $491 billion in gasoline costs for 2011. This year, Kloza said, the average price is about $3.66 a gallon.