Lots of gleeful news on energy coming down the pike.
In my area, gas is trading at $4.10 (rounding up the magical retail mil as per custom) for unleaded regular, and diesel at an eye-popping $4.95. Some stations have even exceeding the psychological $5 barrier for diesel, and if my current projections continue to prove true, the diesel price will become the unleaded regular price in about six month’s time.
As I do much of my Japanese grocery shopping in (relatively nearby) New Jersey, I take advantage of the lower taxes, about 25 cents less per gallon, and being creatures of habit, I usually wind up filling half my tank on the mid-sized late model foreign sedan I use for non-work commuting, with the family.
Our shopping trips generally run at three week intervals, and we seem to consistently hit our gas tank at about the 45% full to 50% full mark (going off of the needle on the gauge: I have not yet had the painful pleasure of filling the tank up from fumes-empty, and I’m too lazy to google up the gas tank capacity for that car tonight).
I was a tad surprised to see that there had been been nearly a 30-cent increase in the NJ gas price in the three weeks between our trips: nearly 10 cents a week.
Needless to say, that car doesn’t get a lot of unnecessary mileage on it these days.
Still, I was “happy” to fork $3.77 per gallon over the four FRNs and a thin dime I would for the same a few miles further north of the border. And it was kind of weird, as I remember the same feeling some five or six years ago, when I was paying only $1.17 in NJ against $1.42 in NY.
Seeing how I *might* be able to go to a four week schedule for hitting up Mitsuwa or Daidō and still fill up my car exclusively in NJ, I may yet be able to save a few more bucks per NJ fill-up. And, it would make my figuring out the monthly food budget a little less funky when accounting for the Japanese groceries.
The three-four dollar pittance of a difference in savings between NY and NJ (that is, in gas taxes) is certainly not going to break me; that difference is a gallon of gas today, and likely half a gallon by the end of this summer.
What may break me may be the inflation (no thanks to the big brains at the FedRes who flawfully figured out “Core Inflation” to be a measly 3.5%/year) as food prices continue to spiral upward and the dollar continues to crater.
Factor in the cost of gas and diesel as it percolates out to everything else (food production, food transport, food refrigeration, cooking, house heating, people transportation, and so on) and I’d be willing to say that real inflation is somewhere around 5% or 6% per year, perhaps more.
With the Fed cratering interest rates into the basement of underperformance (all in the name of “saving the free market from itself”, that is, salvaging certain mega-banks from dying at the hands of their own cupidity and stupidity with sub-prime loans and murderously insecure securities), it sure makes the idea of socking money away into regular savings or CDs a loosing venture.
As the stock markets daily look even deeper into the Bear’s den, the only seemingly safe investments are with energy (especially oil) and perhaps the financial management firms whose only profit would be in the shuffling around of securities like so many savagely overcooked/burnt potatoes.
So what, as the tired idiom goes, does that have to do with the price of sencha or California-grown Japanese style rice in an Asian supermarket?
It may make us reconsider sourcing the Japanese produce and dry goods much more rarely or stopping it altogether. Even now, we avoid buying our meats at Mitsuwa, and fresh Japanese fish and unagi (eel) has become but a dim and dusty memory.
Except for the relatively cheap Kurobuta sliced pork belly, a nosy customer looking into our shopping basket might think we were vegans. We have already been ourselves more to buying locally grown produce and meats, even if it is a scad more pricey *now*, I believe it will grow more competitive with the bGH fluffed beef and bleached fish sold at the local Super Food Monger.
It will also have a chilling effect on any air travel plans for at least myself, for the foreseeable future… although I will likely need to dig very deep for the wife and kids to fly to Japan.
Alternatively, with a wrecked dollar and tons of new “cost-cutting” fees for the privilege of squeezing ourselves into airline seats, it might be cheaper for our beloved Okan and Oton to book a flight with a few fistfuls of firm yen and sample some of our NY cooking for a few weeks.