Gas Prices In Florida Continue Down

gray industrial machine during golden hour

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Gasoline selling as low as $1.93 and $1.91 in my part of Florida on Friday. It’s less than a week since gas prices broke the $2 barrier. Welcome to a strange New Year.

Most stations in my area, north of Tampa-St. Pete and near the southern edge of the Nature Coast, are attempting to hold the gas price line at about $1.94. The ground in Florida is sandy, so you can consider that a line in the sand. A line that’s already been crossed. If gas prices break below $1.90 a gallon next week, will it become a price rout? Probably not.

Today I also noticed that one gas station in my neighborhood has closed since Christmas. Closed for renovation or reconstruction? Or closed for good? Or would that be, more accurately, closed for bad?

With both Ford and General Motors going out of the car business, I wonder how many dealerships will close or consolidate this year and next? How many autoworkers will be laid off? For the record, the companies will continue making a few old-fashioned cars, such as the Ford Mustang. And Ford and Chevy will remain very much open for business. But not Buick. Not sure about Cadillac.

American automakers are simply giving up on sedans and focusing on SUVs and trucks, which remain popular and profitable. American automakers are surrendering to Japanese and Korean automakers. Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler can’t compete, or don’t have the will to compete.

Are falling gas prices and rising popularity of large SUVs and trucks mutually reinforcing trends?

With large parts of the U.S. government closed on purpose by U.S. “leaders” and many Federal workers no longer being paid, with automakers and gasoline industries closing facilities and laying off workers, and the stock market . . .

I can’t finish the above sentence. My mind is unable to grasp the implications.

Where is the bottom?

— John Hayden

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Gas Prices In Florida Last Day Of 2018

The going rate for regular gasoline in my part of Florida was $1.96 a gallon yesterday, Dec. 30, the penultimate day of 2018. And the temperature today, New Year’s Eve, 80 degrees, bright sunshine, delightful. Cheap gas, sunshine, just another day in paradise. Lest you become too envious, New Year’s Day will be only about 76 degrees, followed by a week or more of moderate or falling temperatures.

Seven-Eleven, WaWa, branded stations, all $1.96. A few holdouts were trying for $1.97 or $1.98; probably didn’t have an employee available to change the price.

(Explanation: The average gas station is fully automated. One human cashier for the impoverished or simply backward customers who don’t have credit or debit cards. The convenience stores have two or three other workers, but they’re making coffee or fast food. They have nothing to do with the gasoline pumps. So what’s the  point? Automation and resulting human unemployment is one reason the price of gas is what it is.)

Then late yesterday evening, I saw a $1.94 !! sign at a Citgo station! And, I spotted a lone Sunoco station still stuck at $2.01. Maybe that station is closed? Maybe it’s been abandoned?

Let the record show that all gas prices have that nine-tenths of one cent tacked on at the end. It’s a strange and antiquated marketing custom of the gasoline business. Bamboozling the customer out of an extra nine-tenths of a penny? People have long internalized the ploy. The extra nine-tenths cent has been on gas station signs since at least my childhood, and that’s more than a half-century ago. So, for the unsuspecting reader from some faraway land, such as Antarctica or Pluto, let it be clear. Yesterday’s $1.96 gas was really a fraction of a penny less than $1.97. And who cares?

Who knows what the price is today, the final day of 2018? Not me. I haven’t been out yet, but I’ll update this post later. It’s probably lower. Since about Christmas, the price of gas has been falling about a penny a day. At this rate, we’ll have $1.50 gas by spring. That is, $1.50 gas, BUT ONLY IF prices go in a straight line. Few trends ever follow a straight line. But you knew that.

Will the stock market follow gas prices? Despite the ceremonial wailing and gnashing of teeth by the wealthy class, who tend to be more emotional about money than, say, poor people, there remains a whole lot of profit available for the taking in the stock market when it reopens on Jan. 2, 2019.

All the profit that was in the stock market on the first day of 2018 is STILL THERE.  Everything that happened in 2018 was fluctuation. Up-up-up, and, down-down-down. Turn around, and repeat. Other words, 2018 was a wash, a big NOTHING. The test is yet to come.

So stock market 2019? Can you say profit-taking? Maybe. Or maybe, more inflation of the bubble? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, who wants to bet that the price of gas will be lower on the first day of 2019 than the final day of 2018? I predict gas will hit $1.90, at least, before it goes back up. But my predictions are worth not even nine-tenths of one penny.

Happy New Year to all, whatever it may bring,

— John

 

Gas Prices In Florida

Gas 1.99

GAS PRICE $1.99 FOR REGULAR IN FLORIDA

Gasoline has broken through the $2 barrier in my part of Florida. The photo was taken late this afternoon, Dec. 27, 2018, a little bit north of Tampa-St. Pete, and not far from the southern edge of the Nature Coast. I doubt that such a low price can be found in any of Florida’s largest cities. And definitely not in the cities of the Northeast or California. Just my guess.

So what does it mean?

Is it a harbinger of general economic meltdown? Could be, but I doubt it.

Will prices remain so low? Probably not, but in this crazy time, who can say?

Will the stock market follow the gas price? Don’t know, don’t care. Don’t own any stocks. Or bonds. Let the buyer beware. I just made that up. You can write it down.

What to do?

Fill up now. Remain calm and enjoy driving while it lasts. Probably not a sign from heaven that you should rush out and buy an SUV with a V8 engine. Just saying.

Gas prices will undoubtedly rebound. Unless they crash.

As you may recall, one of the two reasons I moved to Florida was the lower cost of living. The other was warmer winters. It’s been more often cold than warm this Christmas season. But today, as I was transfixed by that $1.99 gas price, the temperature hit 77. Tomorrow, probably 78. Like the gas prices, I enjoy it while it lasts.

Tomorrow’s gas price?

Only one thing I know for sure. Nobody can predict the future.

— John Hayden

Amazon, Books, And Publishing, Read All About It

If you love books, please do not read “CHEAP WORDS: Amazon is good for customers. But is it good for books?”

books headerDon’t read it, because it will break your heart. If you love economic competition or American culture, the article about Amazon.com will also break your heart. If you’re an aspiring author, writing your e-book to sell via Kindle, Nook, or Apple, you probably have a conflicted love-hate relationship with Amazon.

For the fearless reader, the scary, in-depth report by George Packer about Amazon.com may be found in the Feb. 17, 2014, issue of The New Yorker, filed under “Reporter At Large.” Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

On the positive side, if you own stock in Amazon, Mr. Packer’s comprehensive report might make you fall in love all over again:

“The combination of ceaseless innovation and low-wage drudgery makes Amazon the epitome of a successful New Economy company.”

You could credit Amazon with creating jobs. But in the not-too-distant future, most of those warehouse picking and shipping workers will likely be replaced by robots. And whether we believe it or not, in the long run Amazon just might deliver books, and other merchandise, by drone. (Books are now a small part of the company’s business. Amazon is a digital general store, selling nearly everything under the sun.)

Wikicommons photo

Wikicommons photo

I’m not going to give away the whole Amazon love-hate story, which is too long for most of us to read on a computer screen. I printed it out, and it came to 25 letter-sized pages. It’s a must-read for everyone who’s interested in books and/or the publishing industry, so long as you can handle the heartbreak. I’ll give you a taste of Mr. Packer’s judgement:

“Lately, digital titles have leveled off at about thirty per cent of book sales. Whatever the temporary fluctuations in publishers’ profits, the long-term outlook is discouraging. This is partly because Americans don’t read as many books as they used to — they are too busy doing other things with their devices — but also because of the relentless downward pressure on prices that Amazon enforces. The digital market is awash with millions of barely edited titles, most of it dreck, while readers are being conditioned to think that books are worth as little as a sandwich.”

And now I’ll localize the story a bit, which is an editor’s oldest trick on a slow news day. Here in the metro Washington, D.C. area, the newspaper many of us rely on for our news, The Washington Post, has been purchased by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Will the sale lead to the newspaper’s salvation or its continued demise?

— John Hayden

J.K. Rowling’s “The Casual Vacancy” — Prices Slashed

Got it! A first-edition hardback of “The Casual Vacancy,”  by J.K. Rowling, published in the U.S. and Great Britain this week. The 503-page tome comes with a cover price of $35 ($36.99 in Canada), but Walmart has it on deep discount at $24.50.

The Casual Vacancy may signal a turnaround for quality in popular fiction. Where can it go but up, after Hunger Games and “Fifty Shades of Grey?”  Talk about your lowest common denominator!

I plan to do one of my serialized book reviews for Casual Vacancy, with updates posted every few days, as I read.

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E-books By Bestselling Authors Priced @ $12.99

High Cost of E-books

When I bought my Nook last winter, I was hoping to buy e-books at lower prices than hardbacks and paperbacks. But prices aren’t necessarily lower in the digital world.

Despite owning a Nook, I’ve recently splurged on two hardbacks and a paperback. They’re very different novels by three long-established, bestselling authors.

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