April 23, 2008

Hum… another month or so has passed by since my last post. Apologies again for the lack of new material, folks. I’ve started a new job, and between the fun & games associated with a major change like that that and the generally increasing level of activity in my household with the advent of spring, I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve also recognized that my writing has been sounding more like a broken record, and I don’t know that I would be adding a whole lot of value to anyone’s life by repeatedly harping on the same few themes over & over.

Briefly, here are a few of the things I’ve been watching over the last few weeks.

  • Oil is rising… fast. $120 per barrel is within sight… nearly double the price we saw last year at this time. People can argue ad infinitum about the causes of this price spike, since there are a number of them. The fact of the matter is, though, that pump prices are finally starting to catch up with the pace being set by crude oil. I gassed up my 4-cylinder passenger sedan this morning and paid nearly $50 for the privilege of doing so. I guessing it will cost my wife around $60-$65 when she fills up her minivan soon. When I first bought my current vehicle, I was able to fill it up for around $20 per tank, and soon I will be paying three times that. I paid $3.45 per gallon this morning to fill up. This is close to the peak of the post-Katrina price spike in 2005 and at the time was met with horrifying reactions. Now, it’s met with glum acceptance and people are just happy it hasn’t hit $4 yet. How easily we adapt to events…
  • Food prices are starting to get more play in the major media. If you’re not familiar with what I’m talking about, search for ‘food riot’ or ‘food prices’ in Google news. There are so many stories popping up that it makes little sense to try and highlight the important ones, since there are so many of them. So far, those of us in the first world haven’t been affected too badly by this process, but I think that’s coming. As with most other things, when the shit hits the fan, the fecal matter is not evenly distributed, and the world’s poor are being affected most right now. I find it hard to complain about my grocery bill rising when poor folks in Haiti are forced to eat ‘biscuits’ made up mostly of yellow clay.
  • Commodity prices have skyrocketed over the last year or so, but recently there seems to be a decoupling between the price of oil and that of other commodities (gold and other precious metals, in particular). The US dollar has found a level of support it seems, and I’ll be curious to see what events will finally force it below the 70 mark for good.
  • The US financial market is continuing to get shredded.
  • As is the US housing market.

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