Thursday, October 30, 2008

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Have You Discovered The Gas Game?
For the last several months, I've been following the postings on The Gas Game. They are VERY accurate on their predictions about whether gas prices will be lowered or raised each week. I've saved money by filling my tank when they indicate prices will raise, and waiting a few days when they say to expect a drop in prices.

I recommend visiting their website and check out the "refinery status" and "gas price map" links. Also sign up for free to their RSS feed.

I found their latest post interesting about why gas prices are not lower than they are, with the huge drop of price per barrel of oil.

Why aren’t gas prices lower?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008, 9:20 AM: The following question has been posed to me several times the past month: On July 15, oil was at $145 a barrel, and gasoline cost $4.25 a gallon at the pump in Grand Rapids. Last week, oil was $72 a barrel, and gasoline cost $2.96 a gallon. If the price of oil has been cut in half, why hasn’t the price of gas followed suit?

There are a few reasons for this, that I will try to explain.

1. NYMEX. Oil and gasoline futures are traded on the NYMEX, a public market with prices available for all to see. The price of these future contracts helps set what is called the “spot” price, which is what is actually charged when real oil or gasoline changes hands at the wholesale level. Sales and other taxes are not included in the NYMEX prices. Looking at these futures prices, both oil and gasoline has dropped approximately 50%, so at least at the NYMEX level, these prices are correlated.

2. Taxes. There are three taxes applied to the wholesale price: the federal gas tax of 18.4 cents per gallon, the state gas tax of 19 cents per gallon, and the sales tax of 6%. So, that’s at least 50 cents of the retail price that is taxes, regardless of the wholesale price (except for the sales tax, of course). In the past three months, those taxes have not been cut in half, so it would be hard for the retail price to drop 50%.

3. Chicago Summer Premium. I coined this term a few years ago to describe how, during the summer months, the wholesale price in the Midwest is usually higher than the price based on NYMEX. The reasons for this have to do with reformulated gasoline, variations in supply and demand, and some other mysteries I’ve never solved. A way to monitor this premium is to look at the wholesale numbers for selected Midwest cities that are posted on AXXIS. The NYMEX/AXXIS difference was 20 cents on July 15, over a dollar in mid-September when Hurricane Ike struck, and is currently still 41 cents. The AXXIS price has not dropped in half the past three months, and this may still be a hangover from the hurricanes. It is also the first place I would look for gas gouging if I was the Attorney General.

4. The Dynamics of the Retail Market. As a journalist said to me last week, “Up like a rocket, down like a feather.” We’ve documented time and again on this site how this works, with the big price hikes followed by the gentle day-to-day drops, while the wholesale price fluctuates in the background. Our last price hike was during the September 12-14 weekend, when prices got up to $4.29 on 28th street. Since then, the drops have been slow but sure — some days one or two cents, other days seven or eight cents. In an area where there are several stations, one station decides to drop their prices a few cents because a cheaper shipment came in that day, and the other stations follow suit. The point is that the retailers aren’t setting their prices based on trading on NYMEX. They are setting it based on their costs, what their competitors are doing, and what sort of business they are getting. Are the retailers making extra money right now? I doubt it, as our monitoring indicates they are still dealing with high wholesale prices in the Midwest, and some of the gas in their tanks cost them $2.95 a gallon last week. But prices continue to fall, slowly but surely.

All this leads to my latest prediction: It looks to me like the chaos on Wall Street is dissipating, so energy prices are starting to stabilize. I expect Speedway and friends will decide it is time to straighten up their prices, with a reset by the end of the week to $2.89.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Do You Want An International Crisis?? If So, VOTE OBAMA!

VP Candidate Joe Biden promised a crisis within 6 months if Obama is voted in as President.

Former Secretary of State under President Clinton, Madeleine Albright agrees with Biden:

WAKE UP AMERICA! The last thing our country needs right now is to deal with an international crisis. Elect somebody who is ready to lead -- John McCain.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hoogendyk for Senate!!!

In tonight's debate, it was comical that Senator Carl Levin called Rep. Hoogendyk extreme and unable to reach across party lines in a bipartisan manner. Levin is an extreme liberal who does nothing to reach out and work with Republicans.

Levin admitted that the reason the people of Michigan should vote for him is because of the earmarks and money he can bring back to the state because of his seniority position in the Senate. THAT IS TROUBLING!!! He also admitted that he voted against the Bush tax plans even though the majority of Michigan citizens supported it. Why?? Because "Grandpa looking-over-his-glasses-at-the-end-of-his-nose Levin" knew that it would be bad for Michigan and bad for America. Levin said he did support the tax relief for the middle and lower class, but voted against the bill because he thinks the upper class should be taxed much higher. Then he turned right around and said the middle class suffered under Bush (no mention of the Democrat controlled House and Senate, or the Democrat Governor we have) even though the tax cut he voted against actually passed. Go figure.

Hoogendyk hit hard against the bailout package, especially all the "sweeteners" that were added to get it passed ... I was glad to hear somebody who gets it.

There's no need to point fingers about where the blame lies for the state of the economy in Michigan or the nation ... let's just fix it by putting some people into office who have common sense and are guided by their principles rather than politics! Vote Hoogendyk!!!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Michigan Senatorial Debate - Oct. 19 & 20

If you live in Michigan, I hope you will take the time to tune into the debates between current Senator Carl Levin and challenger Jack Hoogendyk. The debates will be streamed here ... (Hat tip to Larry at Forty-four.)

If you don't know much about him, here are a few videos featuring Jack Hoogendyk:

A Comparison in Patriotism

Republican VP candidate, Sarah Palin knows how to connect with and fire up a crowd! One reporter wrote, "Here is the thing about governor Sarah Palin: She loves America. Really loves it. She loves the smell of cut grass and hay, as she told Ohio voters Sunday. She loves Navy bases, she said in Virginia Beach on Monday morning. She loves America's "most beautiful national anthem," she told a crowd here." The latest campaign controversy involves a statement made by Palin about the patriotic enthusiasm of small towns. She said there were "very pro-America." Of course Biden thought she meant that large towns and Democrats were therefore "anti-American". Below is a video from CNN about it.

Compare Palin's attitude of loving America's "most beautiful national anthem" to the video below and this snippet from an article in a New Hampshire paper, the Union Leader:

Not present, or at least not singing the National Anthem at the rally was Londonderry senior Zach Bencal.

Bencal, who sings the anthem for a number of school events and is actively involved in local community theatre, had been contacted by the Obama campaign to sing the anthem. He agreed to do so, then was told later in the evening the anthem had been scratched from the program. Bencal said he was told by the campaign the decision was a simple programming change to make room for another speaker.

"I guess it just wasn't meant to be," Bencal said.

Sandra Abrevaya, communications director for the Obama campaign's Manchester office, confirmed the choice had simply been a last-minute scratch from the rally's program, which included the Pledge of Allegiance.

"We regret the miscommunication with Zach about today's event but we are pleased that several other New Hampshire residents were able to speak at today's event, where thousands of voters in both parties gathered to hear Sen. Obama discuss his plan to bring the change we need to Washington."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Dean Reynolds, a CBS reporter covering the campaigns of Obama and McCain, made the following observations in a blog. I believe his article provides some valuable insight into the organizational and leadership skills of each candidate, as well as an insight into their character.

Behind the scenes, where the public is not allowed, there are other differences.

Obama's campaign schedule is fuller, more hectic and seemingly improvisational. The Obama aides who deal with the national reporters on the campaign plane are often overwhelmed, overworked and un-informed about where, when, why or how the candidate is moving about. Baggage calls are preposterously early with the explanation that it's all for security reasons.

If so, I would love to have someone from Obama's campaign explain why the entire press corps, the Secret Service, and the local police idled for two hours in a Miami hotel parking lot recently because there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. It was not an isolated case.

The national headquarters in Chicago airily dismisses complaints from journalists wondering why a schedule cannot be printed up or at least e-mailed in time to make coverage plans. Nor is there much sympathy for those of us who report for a newscast that airs in the early evening hours. Our shows place a premium on live reporting from the scene of campaign events. But this campaign can often be found in the air and flying around at the time the "CBS Evening News with Katie Couric" is broadcast. I suspect there is a feeling within the Obama campaign that the broadcast networks are less influential in the age of the internet and thus needn't be accomodated as in the days of yore. Even if it's true, they are only hurting themselves by dissing audiences that run in the tens of millions every night.

The McCain folks are more helpful and generally friendly. The schedules are printed on actual books you can hold in your hand, read, and then plan accordingly. The press aides are more knowledgeable and useful to us in the news media. The events are designed with a better eye, and for the simple needs of the press corps. When he is available, John McCain is friendly and loquacious. Obama holds news conferences, but seldom banters with the reporters who've been following him for thousands of miles around the country. Go figure.

The McCain campaign plane is better than Obama's, which is cramped, uncomfortable and smells terrible most of the time. Somehow the McCain folks manage to keep their charter clean, even where the press is seated.

The other day in Albuquerque, N.M., the reporters were given almost no time to file their reports after McCain spoke. It was an important, aggressive speech, lambasting Obama's past associations. When we asked for more time to write up his remarks and prepare our reports, the campaign readily agreed to it. They understood.

Similar requests are often denied or ignored by the Obama campaign aides, apparently terrified that the candidate may have to wait 20 minutes to allow reporters to chronicle what he's just said. It's made all the more maddening when we are rushed to our buses only to sit and wait for 30 minutes or more because nobody seems to know when Obama is actually on the move.

Maybe none of this means much. Maybe a front-running campaign like Obama's that is focused solely on victory doesn't have the time to do the mundane things like print up schedules or attend to the needs of reporters.

But in politics, everything that goes around comes around.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Joe Biden and Home Depot

A radio host checks up on Biden's statement that he often goes to Home Depot: