Keeping Perspective

Saturday, April 4, 2020 8:16 AM

Hoping for counter arguments in the future.

If the shutdowns and physical distancing in place not only flatten the curve but truly reduce the number of COVID-19 fatalities the argument will be raised that it was all an over-reaction, etc.  I hope this happens because it means less suffering and death.  This is a time when the sky-is-falling people, or even the historical data people, all hope to be wrong.

Seeing the steps being taking has me wondering how many lives would have been saved in the modern era (when communication existed across the Atlantic Ocean.)  Add in the reduced suffering, which has tentacles into many parts of society and the advances it makes.  These wonderings are best left to science fiction writers.

Scary Data Point

Every week I check This Week In Petroleum from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  I skim it looking at different items each time, but the one item I look at is the gasoline demand.  The four-week demand smooths out the weekly data vagaries, but the weekly data give an early insight into the strength of the economy. Heading into the Great Recession demand slackened before the job numbers started to show the unemployment rate rise.  I have figured since then that the weekly gasoline numbers are like a constant pulse reading of the economy.  Two weeks ago I saw a drop but knew the following week would show a much bigger decline…

I was not ready for the shock it was.  In the graphic below look at the Week ending 3/27/20.  That number shook me like no other single data piece has done before.  It still does.  Just from the data around it the gravity of it should be easily seen.  The chart is the 4-week average.  As time progresses that chart will continue to reflect what this single week is showing.

Going into their database for perspective, and see how this week ranks.  The EIA gasoline database begins in February of 1991.  The first three weeks of their database are lower than this week.  From March 1, 1991 to January 28, 1994 there were five to ten other weeks lower than this week, most just barely.  Staring at all this data, the lowest week I can find is January 28, 1994 with supplied gasoline at 6,321,000 barrels per day. Last week was 6,659,000 bpd.  To put this into a sharper perspective, the U.S. population is about 23% bigger now.  So per person we are off their chart last week.  However I think in the coming weeks we will drop off their charts without population extrapolations.

On the positive side…

I had filled my car up with gas on March 11 paying $2.119 a gallon! Such highway robbery! :D.  The price fight in Union has been fantastic to watch.  The lowest price in Maine, and last I looked a week or so ago it was the lowest price in New England.  Credit card price at Mic Mac dropped to $1.19, the cash price at the Kenaco station a mile or so away may have been lower.  Remembering prices from two weeks ago seems like eternity.

My longest tank of gas in this car lasted 16 days.  This one is longer and should last the rest of this month, even though I only have about 100 miles remaining in it (under 2 gallons).  Today the tank is at 24 days.  I may add a page to this site that shows gas mileage and comparisons to previous vehicles I owned.

Posting again soon and cover some recent audiobooks.  The current audiobook is full of shocking history from after World War 2 in this country.

Trying to stay away from political bashing at the moment. The situation this year is beyond that and is truly an embarrassment.  The saying ‘every country gets the government it deserves’ hits even harder now.