February 19, 2012

Consumers Got Gassed Out


In the consumer economy, gasoline demand has strangely collapsed. I have always felt this was a solid indicator of consumer behavior, and still do.  At a core level I sense that in reality the consumer is MIA.  As you can see the normal seasonal pickup in driving  is barely registering. At the same time a combination of refining problems, high input costs,  and speculation has driven gasoline prices to the highest levels this time of year ever. This does not look like a good recipe for meaningful consumer spending, and the window for an Iranian shock is fast approaching.


Per the Conference Board survey the consumer view of the job market can only be called shockingly dire.
Consumers’ assessment of the labor market was also less positive. Those saying jobs are “plentiful” decreased to 6.1 percent from 6.6 percent, while those claiming jobs are “hard to get” increased to 43.5 percent from 41.6 percent.
U.S. Gasoline Demand Graph.


About The Author - Russ Winter is a veteran investor, financial writer, world traveler, and he blogs at Winter Watch.  (EconMatters author archive here)

The views and opinions expressed herein are the author's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of EconMatters.

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