Our battle with gas prices has been among the most eye-catching topics since the cost skyrocketed in the first half of 2022, ultimately topping $5.02 per gallon on June 18. In some parts of the country, consumers even saw prices exceed $6.
Costs managed to decline in the course of the second half of the year, however, even dipping to a current national average of $3.40. That said, much damage has been done. The commodity remains a core economic ingredient that still plagues American households making difficult financial health decisions in much of the country, especially when taking into account the already-expensive holiday season.
Gasoline is an economic commodity that works by the consumer-unfriendly “feather theory”: the price spikes quickly, and then slowly, gradually, drops back to previous levels. The price stays higher, longer, and remains vulnerable to further increases when an unfavorable event occurs. Such events that bump prices up can resemble, for example, the perfect storm of the present moment; OPEC’s brief cuts to its output, the short-term U.S. refinery shutdowns in October, and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war.
Some experts also blame price gouging by oil companies. “For far too long, Big Oil’s price gouging has gone unchallenged, allowing the industry to artificially inflate prices and give billions of dollars to their already wealthy shareholders – all at the expense of hard-working consumers,” says Jordan Schreiber, director of energy and development at Accountable.US.
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