Econ. Professor: Biden effect minimal on gas prices

Jacob Ford/Odessa American via APOil rigs are seen in a icy landscape near Interstate 20 in Odessa,Texas on Feb. 12. With severe winter weather causing about a dozen Texas oil refineries to shut down last week, the national price per gallon rose 10 cents alone last week to bring it to $2.63, according to GasBuddy, a travel and navigation app that uses 11 million price reports from 150,000 gas stations across the country to track gas prices.

PLATTSBURGH — Gas prices have risen for seven consecutive weeks nationally starting in early January. President Joe Biden was inaugurated Jan. 20 and has spent five and a half weeks in the Oval Office.

But has Biden played a part in the rising gas and oil prices? SUNY Plattsburgh Economics and Finance Professor Colin Read says no.

“The cold weather always brings on rising prices because the oil available has to be divided up between gasoline or fuel oil,” Read said. “In the cold season, they start devoting more of each barrel of oil to fuel oil and less to gasoline. So, I don’t think it’s related to Biden at all.”

STOCKS AND STIMULUS

But Read said it’s still possible that Biden has some indirect effect on gas and oil prices.

“The closest it could possibly be to Biden is that the stock market is hopeful and expects that the $1.9 trillion aid package will go through and with that, additional economic growth will bring additional demand to all products, including gasoline,” he said.

“Oil prices tend to be priced in the stock market depending on how much supply and demand is floating around on a given day.”

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

So rising gas and oil prices is typically a sign of a good economy because of more demand, Read said.

“We’ve just seen incredibly low oil prices because there was weak demand in a bad economy over the last year or so,” Read said about gas prices during the pandemic.

But with severe winter weather causing about a dozen Texas oil refineries to shut down last week, the national price per gallon rose 10 cents alone last week to bring it to $2.63, according to GasBuddy, a travel and navigation app that uses 11 million price reports from 150,000 gas stations across the country to track gas prices.

WEATHER EFFECTS

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said motorists should expect prices to lower soon as refineries open back up.

“With the cold weather behind us, price increases should begin to slow later this week or next week, and so long as these refineries get back online in short order, we may see gas prices start to move back down in the next couple of weeks,” De Haan said.

“However, as we near spring weather, we’ll likely see another longer term rise in prices begin as refineries start to transition to summer gasoline, so motorists shouldn’t jump for joy just yet.”

Read thinks so, too.

Normally, Read said, gas prices start to go up in spring and summer as the people start to go on longer trips.

“But it’s hard to say whether that is going to happen this summer, and whether we’ll still have restricted travel or not. We’ll have to wait and see,” Read said.

 Email Fernando Alba: falba@pressrepublican.com

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