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Don't Look For Big, Smart Energy Ideas This Campaign Season

Posted by: David Kiley on May 28, 2008

We won’t hear much in the way of intentionally maintaining high gas prices from Barack Obama and John McCain this year. That sort of talk is toxic to voters, especially those in the key states of Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where labor and non-college educated voters are so important to anyone election and would recoil at the idea of keeping gas prices high no matter how much sense it makes for the country.

But The New York Times’ Tom Friedman, one of the bright lights on energy policy in the U.S., has another good column today about the need for oil and gasoline price floors to keep gas prices at near $4.00 per gallon even if oil prices drop at some point.

The only potential flaw I see in the price floor scheme is that speculators and producers might rig the market to keep prices above the floor were the U.S. to set one. Better for them to make that money than let it fall into the tax coffers of the U.S. to then be used to suppress demand for oil and gasoline by the country that consumes more per capita than any other country.

I especially like Friedman’s story about what his Toyota dealer told him about trade-ins: “I was visiting my local Toyota dealer in Bethesda, Md., last week to trade in one hybrid car for another. There is now a two-month wait to buy a Prius, which gets close to 50 miles per gallon. The dealer told me I was lucky. My hybrid was going up in value every day, so I didn’t have to worry about waiting a while for my new car. But if it were not a hybrid, he said, he would deduct each day $200 from the trade-in price for every $1-a-barrel increase in the OPEC price of crude oil. When I saw the rows and rows of unsold S.U.V.’s parked in his lot, I understood why.”

Also worth pointing out is Friedman’s take on an op-ed piece written by Tim Shriver in the Washington Post: “Cynical ideas, like the McCain-Clinton summertime gas-tax holiday, would only make the problem worse, and reckless initiatives like the Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep offer to subsidize gasoline for three years for people who buy its gas guzzlers are the moral equivalent of tobacco companies offering discounted cigarettes to teenagers…I can’t say it better than my friend Tim Shriver, the chairman of Special Olympics, did in a Memorial Day essay in The Washington Post: “So Dodge wants to sell you a car you don’t really want to buy, that is not fuel-efficient, will further damage our environment, and will further subsidize oil states, some of which are on the other side of the wars we’re currently fighting. … The planet be damned, the troops be forgotten, the economy be ignored: buy a Dodge.”

Reader Comments

Michael Lewis

May 28, 2008 6:09 PM


If the US Government spent a trillion dollars over 8 years on domestic oil production from known reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, the Continental Shelf and coal gasification instead of War in Iraq gas would be $2 a gallon or less. America could quit sending billions to countries that sponsor terrorism. And reducing our trade imbalance keeps jobs in America. Every billion of trade deficit costs 13,000 jobs. $400 billion for oil last year: do the math.

America has 1/4th the coal on planet earth. South Africa is producing 300,000 barrels of gas and diesel a day from coal. And synthetic fuel from coal is cleaner burning than gas. And it can be produced cheaper than from $100+ a barrel crude oil.

Harness your anger at the pump. Call you're US Senators and demand domestic production in this decade. If you don’t raise your voice the oil companies and politicians will assume you are ready to pay even more.

The poor, who are the least able to pay high gas prices, will soon be buying thos SUVs because they are the cheapest vehicles available!

Buddy Bradford

May 28, 2008 9:17 PM

NetRouter saves 10-25% of the fuel required to make deliveries or service calls through vehicle route optimization. It's described at

James Wendt

June 3, 2008 11:18 AM

How is it possible that the fuel consumption of a large passenger bus (reference link below) nearly matches that of an American SUV. As consumers, we are allowing the oil companies and the majority of car makers to take the easy more profitable road.

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