As Gasoline Prices Pass $3.81, Stranded Motorists Looking For Cheap Refueling Options Surge

Tyler Durden's picture

Following this week's ebullient UMichigan consumer confidence readings (which continue to diverge from reality as per Gallup, which oddly enough does not poll Wall Street CEOs who are always eager to give their economic assessment from the infinity pool while vacationing in Fiji) one would think that the price of gas had fallen of a cliff. Alas no. In fact quite the opposite. And the propaganda logic of the domestic ministry of disinformation, consumers in Hawaii must be by far the most confident as it is the state where gas prices are now at virtually all time highs, well ahead of the peak summer driving season. Businessweek reports: "Hawaii's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline hit a nation-leading $4.46 on Thursday, 28 cents higher than second-place California. The national average reached $3.81, according to AAA data. Wyoming had the cheapest gas in the country at $3.53. As many states brace for gas to climb to $4, Hawaii was the first to reach that mark a month ago. The Aloha state's average on Thursday was 12 cents higher than a week ago, according to the automobile association." The weekly increase is double what the national spike for regular gas was, which moved from $3.750 to $3.818 in the span of a week (compared to $2.858 a year ago). And as the LA Times reports, the ongoing surge in gas prices has led many to paradoxical outcome of literally run out of while driving from station to station looking for the cheapest refuelling option.

For the first time since the record-setting gasoline- and diesel-price summer of 2008, there has been a double-digit increase in the number of Southern California motorists gambling -- and losing -- a bet that they will find a pump price they can live with before they run out of fuel. Experts say it's a common form of rolling the dice out of anger and frustration.

"When prices go up, people like to push it. If it is costing you $50 or $75 or $100 to fill up, that is real money they don't want to part with. They are hoping to find a bargain, and they push it further and further," said Jason Toews, co-founder of GasBuddy.com, a system of 185 websites where members post the highest and lowest prices they find.

AAA of Southern California says that an average of 15,600 of its members a month are having to make one of those mildly embarrassing "stranded, need gasoline" emergency calls in the 13 counties within the organization's jurisdiction. That's an increase of 12.9% over the first quarter of last year, and it represents the biggest jump since the California gas-price average hit the AAA all-time-high mark of $4.61 a gallon on June 19, 2008.

"It's happening again to a lot of people," said local AAA spokesman Jeff Spring. "Our presumption is that these current high gasoline prices have a lot to do with it."

The current state average is $4.191 for a gallon of regular gasoline, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, which is compiled by the Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express. That's up from $4.125 a gallon a week ago and just $3.112 a gallon at this time last year. Among states, only Hawaii, with an average of $4.464 a gallon, has more expensive gasoline than California.

And since in America denial is always the best strategy to dealing with any form of problem the AAA issued the following directive for its intellectually challenged, yet driver's license holding, members: "'E' for an empty gas Tank May Turn into a capital 'E' for Expensive repair." One could also argue that 'E' stands for 'Eliminate' the idiots who have gotten America to such a dire predicament whereby the benefit of the Poverty Effect for all is having a vastly greater impact on mass psycholog than the Wealth Effect for 0.1%. And for those still confused, the price of Brent crude has jumped by 67.4% since the Chairsatan's Jackson Hole speech, while the S&P is up just 26.3%.

Yet somehow we are positive that this now near boiling anger at the pump will translate itself into another record consumer confidence high next month courtesy of the Bizarro day spinners at the BLS and the Ministry of Truth.

And for those, like the Benzebub who never need to refuel, and wish to see a state by state breakdown of average gas prices can do so here.