Unexpectedly Intriguing!
July 5, 2011

After months of inaction as gasoline prices were rising, President Obama suddenly announced on 23 June 2011 that the U.S. would release 30 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, in a move that appears to be somewhat of a panicked effort to try to claim some credit for a decline in gasoline prices, which have been falling steadily since 5 May 2011.

Let's see how the President's action has affected U.S. gasoline prices since the announcement. The following chart from GasBuddy.com shows the three month average retail price for regular gasoline sold in the United states:

Three Month Average Retail Gasoline Prices, as of 4 July 2011

As best as we can tell, there was a slight dip in the downward trend in gasoline prices around the time of the announcement, which evaporated within a couple of days, as the existing trend quickly resumed its previous trajectory. And since 29 June 2011, there's actually been an increase in average retail gasoline prices across the U.S., which is likely related to travel associated with the extended Fourth of July holiday weekend in the U.S. this year.

Or in other words, the President's dramatic action has had precious little effect on the overall trend of gasoline prices in the U.S., suggesting that President Obama's effort to alter the trajectory of U.S. gasoline prices shares a similar level of impotence as the efforts of Venezuelan President's Hugo Chávez, who tried unsuccessfully to move world oil prices in the opposite direction.

In other news, U.S. retail gasoline prices have fallen to the point where we expect that we will be soon decommission the "Good Morning, White House Staffer!..." feature on our site that we first launched when average U.S. retail gasoline prices began exceeding the critical $3.50 to $3.60 per gallon range earlier this year. We'll be taking it down after those prices fall consistently below the $3.55 per gallon mark, but the White House staffer who has been tasked with "monitoring the situation closely" can expect it to return should those prices rise back about $3.60 per gallon!...


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