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Fighting Petrofraud on the Fouth of July

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Message Michael Fox

According to Reuters, April petroleum consumption in the United States went down 3.9% from March, to the lowest level for any April in six years. Well, done, America! Keep it up (or, down, as the case may be)! June will be holding an even bigger surprise, but we won’t see that result until the end of August. But there’s something you can do right now: Change your plans for the July 4th weekend!

If you had in mind a road trip of more than 50 miles, don’t go. Have a BBQ with neighbors, or friends and family close to home. It’s not really such a small thing I am suggesting, because many people plan long road trips months in advance, and, thus, the 4th of July weekend is to Exxon what Christmas is to Macy’s: Jackpot!

However, in December 2007, shoppers stayed away in droves, and department store chains dropped prices to levels previously only known only to “after Christmas sales” – weeks before Christmas. And, since in most U.S. cities, “Department Store” means Macy’s (as they have gobbled up most of their competition over the past decade), the message was received loud and clear when shoppers stopped buying in early December. I suspect Hallmark replaced Macys for many people this year. But Macy’s did drastically reduce prices in response to the setback.

So, in keeping with efforts to reduce consumption and drive prices down, it is crucial that we cut out long drives during the very weekend that the oil companies traditionally bank on. Don’t give in to it. Let them see a ten percent reduction in July.

There’s only so long a speculative bubble can outlast the underlying facts that sustain it. The oil bubble can’t sustain the facts that are now being reported. The prevailing meme about China’s increasing oil imports is also drying up. Last month, Reuters reported that:
“China's April crude oil imports fell by 3.9 percent from a year ago to 3.47 million bpd, and were also down from the record of 4.07 million bpd in March, official Chinese data showed.”

It’s not yet a trend, but, it can become one. Most Asians and Europeans drive efficient cars, when they drive at all. Most Americans (all of North America) do not. So until the entire fleet of the cars in North America can be shifted from gas guzzlers to gas sippers, we must speak with our driving choices. Actions, after all, do speak louder than words.

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Michael Fox is a writer and economist based in Los Angeles. He has been a corporate controller, professor, and small business entrepreneur. After a life-altering accident, he spent five years learning more about medicine and the healthcare (more...)
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