Sunday, August 5, 2007

Gas Prices and Other Phenomena

gas pumpIf you want to know why gas prices keep rising and falling, it is because of me. My purchasing gas at the pump has had a dramatic effect on whether the price has gone up or down.

When I waited to buy gas because the price seemed high, the price went even higher. When I bought gas because I wanted to lock in the current price before it went upward, the price has quickly fallen. I did not fully accept the effect until after the last time I bought gas, which I did at at $3.17 a gallon. I bought it at that price because the media was reporting that the forecast for the price was $3.50 a gallon by that weekend.

Well, the price never got to $3.50 a gallon. Instead the price has fallen to $2.58. I see the lower price on all the gas station signs as I drive by them, burning my $3.17 a gallon load. My mind automatically calculates and recalculates the difference in price that I paid to fill my 15 gallon tank. I translate the difference into how many additional bags of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies I could have gotten out of the vending machine at work for that money.

While it may be irritating to me financially to have this power over local gas prices, I do take some consolation from knowing that my buy high/buy high involuntary strategy has helped a lot of other people in their pocketbook.

I know that this phenomenon is more than a fluke because of its consistent occurrence. The reasons that the oil companies and media have provided to explain shifts in prices have never seemed more plausible than my own determination, so I don't feel that my reasoning is contradicted by any other set of facts.

A somewhat related finding comes from a survey done by the Miller Brewing Company that showed that 25% of Americans believed that their presence at a sporting event had an effect on its outcome. I'm not sure if the effect was supposed to be from their cheering to encourage the players to play differently or a yet to be understood effect that their physical proximity had on the players' ability to perform. My effect on sporting events is that I cause teams I want to win to lose if I watch them play on TV. It is a pretty pronounced effect, so if you want me to affect a game, give me a reason to like your team and then I won't watch them. A $5 donation for the effort would be appreciated.

photo "Gas Pump" by Endless Studio. Some rights reserved.


Geoff said...

So YOU'RE the reason! lol. Your post made me laugh because I can't seem to catch a break, whenever I finally break down and fill up the tank it's always at the highest price. Great post!

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