Monday, May 7, 2012

Fuel prices in "free fall."

CNBC reported Friday that oil prices were in "free fall." (Observers will note that gasoline prices at the pump are falling also.) While the article cited many factors, the main reason for the decline is the economy:
But the big driver is the concern that the U.S. economy is not strong enough to withstand a weak European economy and slower growth in China. The disappointing April jobs report Friday, showing just 115,000 nonfarm payrolls were added, was the latest catalyst for a second day of heavy selling.
The federal government has printed (or "quantitatively eased" or whatever they are calling it now) trillions of dollars in the last several years. Fuel prices have more than doubled since January 2009. The printing press has not stopped, yet prices are now falling. For the price of a basic commodity to fall while the printing press runs amok is an extraordinary circumstance. At a certain point, even a runaway printing press cannot make people spend money. We should remember this lesson when we consider the effect of lower mortgage rates or new federal subsidies on the real estate market.

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