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Funny yet sad oil prices

Posted July. 20, 2022 07:57,   

Updated July. 20, 2022 07:57


“Wine: Cheaper than gas, so drink, don’t drive!”

On Monday, while walking on the streets of New York, I saw a signboard standing in front of a wine shop. When I asked the store owner what it meant, he said, “Gas prices have shot up like crazy. I wrote it because I thought people would find it funny.” This phrase, which is a parody of the phrase “Wine is cheaper than therapy,” is sometimes talked about on social media as a satire on the all-time high oil prices. Some stores sell T-shirts with this phrase on them.

In April, an employee I met at the car rental office at the Los Angeles Airport, California, complained to me, a total stranger, "Gas prices have gone up too much in Los Angeles. How much does gas cost in your state?" The price of gasoline in California was close to 6 U.S. dollars a gallon on Monday, which is 33 percent more expensive than the U.S. average (4.5 dollars). In May, for the first time in U.S. history, oil prices exceed the Americans’ psychological barriers of 4 dollars in all 50 states.

Angry oil prices are also reflected in public opinions. In the same day’s CNN poll, 79 percent of respondents said, "Things are going badly for the country." Observers’ analysis indicates that U.S. President Joe Biden left for Saudi Arabia despite criticism that he “defends human rights violations” and his advisors predict a drop in oil prices every day to appease the public.

“Oil prices in some areas could fall below 4 dollars a gallon,” White House economic adviser Jared Bernstein said on the same day. However, the oil refining industry, which is under pressure to cut oil prices, is not predicting such a dramatic price drop due to supply issues caused by the prolonged conflict in Ukraine.

Hyoun-Soo Kim kimhs@donga.com