Previously I noted a number of the factors experts are citing to explain the recent increase in U.S. gasoline prices. They range from increased global crude oil demand to unplanned refinery outages. Such explanations are fine as far as they go and worth keeping in mind. But there is a larger point I want to emphasize, which is that there is never any one specific factor that fully accounts for the total price consumers pay at the pump.
Rising gasoline prices have sparked media attention and resulted in commentators struggling to understand and explain the latest market developments. I thought of this challenge recently as I read a piece in The Washington Post entitled “Gas prices are on a mysterious climb.” The story contained a lot of detail and useful information, but I had a problem with the headline. The issue is complex, but it is not a complete mystery.
The readers of The New York Times opened their papers this morning to find an insightful column with some, perhaps, unfamiliar ideas. In the “Axis of Ennui,” respected columnist David Brooks writes about the “boring” people and industries that are transforming the U.S. economy for the better. At the top of his list is the U.S. energy industry.
ExxonMobil’s earnings often get a lot of attention from politicians and the media. Far less attention is paid to the amount of money we invest to earn those profits. That’s a shame, because those numbers are quite instructive about the work we plan to do to help meet the world’s energy needs for the next several decades.