26 February 2012

How Economically Significant are US Gasoline Prices?

The figure above shows US spending on gasoline as a proportion of GDP for the period 1983 to 2010, with 1983 set to 100. The data comes from the US EIA (gasoline consumption and prices) and the White House (GDP). The figure shows that in 2010 the total economic cost of gasoline as a proportion of GDP was about half what it was in 1983.

Assuming that gasoline consumption is constant in 2011 ans 2012 and prices go to $4.00 per gallon, with 2.5% annual GDP growth then the index increases in 2012 to 66, or just about the same level as in the lead-up to the 1988 elections.

While everyone likes lower priced energy, the current price of gasoline does not appear particularly exceptional in recent US economic context. $4/gallon gasoline is not what it used to be.