Gas prices go up at the whim of the oil companies. We may be using less gas as energy, but it is still the primary source of energy in the United States and the world. It’s a supply and demand market–as such as the demand dwindles, the prices go up to compensate.
Gas prices are most definitely not set by oil companies, and it is definitely not anyone’s whim. The price of gasoline depends mostly on the price of oil, which is set in a global marketplace by supply and demand – or more accurately, perceptions of supply and demand by oil traders in mercantile markets. Those perceptions may be misguided, especially on a short-term basis. Nowadays the price of oil has been following the stock market, because traders see the stock market as a measure of economic recovery. A recovering economy will use more oil, and the price will go up more.
In general, although there was some decline in US oil consumption over the past 2 years, that decline was made up by increases in China, India, and elsewhere. So the global supply and demand ratio has remained about the same. Since it is a global price, what happens in the US alone does not have that much impact. If the US, still the largest consumer, could actually reduce its consumption A LOT – like 10% – that would be felt in the global price.
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