We have had discussions and threads that touch on "peak oil", less available black gold, increasing pump prices, etc. Not sure if anybody saw some of the prime reasons for this first-half of 2008 spike.....a declining USA dollar and speculators cornering. Yeah, Indian and China (and a host of others) have standards of living that are now gobbling available crude.....but that gobble action didn't start in January, 2008. It has been increasing for at least a decade.
Whatever the reasons.....some folks with impressive credentials have predicted gasoline at the pump in the USA reaching $10/gallon. Other experts downplay that kind of prediction, strongly hinting that the government would step-in long before petrol reached that level, possibly with price controls.
This thread is not about the reasons. It is not meant to provide a political platform to bash our President, oil companies, those overseas who provide the USA economy with oil, those of us who drive SUVs, big exurban lots, etc. Do that bash-attack in a different thread. This thread is for an intelligent discussion of "the impact of $10/gallon gas". If those who predicted that big spike are only half-right.....gas at the pump still could reach the $6 to $7 range. Let's discuss the impacts of "really-high pump prices".....
Just Getting To Work
The phrase most often heard in my workplace, as the pump prices have soared, is this: "If it goes much higher, I can't afford to drive to work." There is a lot of truth in that statement, especially in locales that are relatively spread-out and lack public transportation. As our USA cities and metros grew, many of the places we work spread to the outerbelts. If petrol at the pump reached really high levels, there is no way most communities are going to be able to "grow" their transit systems in a short period of time. Viable transit systems......even as simple as transit busses.....require investment, time, regulatory involvement.
Good time to invest in corporations that manufacture transit busses.
My company has almost 160 employees, a very-typical size for an American business. Because of the different start times, car-pooling would have a minimum impact. One thing I can do is to at least make it easy for folks to be aware of car-pooling opportunities. I plan to, at the very least, post names and addresses of those "who would be interested" in pooling.
My guess is that another impact will be a change in schedules for many workplaces. Look for more organizations asking their staff to work four 10-hour shifts instead of the traditional five 8-hour shifts. If that biz needs to operate 5-days a week, "skeleton" crews will be in on certain days. That will put pressure on managers who have to develop the schedules AND continue to meet the demand of their customers.
Good time to invest in supervisory training, time management training.
Neighborhoods near big industrial workplaces or big office parks will see increases in population. Folks who moved away from their workplace ('burb flight) will now try to move closer, even if it results in people re-filling those places that emptied. And if a family who (fortunately) finally sells their outer-ring suburb home heads back into the inner-ring or the central-core city, will they have the wherewithall to invest in another home......or will apartment dwellings on the edges of central-core cities become HOT properties?
When this Bear was a young dude (calling Mott the Hoople ) hitchhiking was popular. I did it all of the time, every day. Never had a problem, always was picked-up, nothing bad ever happened. But our world changed and nowadays if you see a hitchhiker it is only because the local police have not noticed him/her yet.
Will hitchhiking come back? Can it be regulated (and I usually dislike too much regulation)? A hitchhiking card and a hitchhiking sticker, perhaps. Indicators to the hitchhiker and to the driver that you both have "license" to perform this deed?
To save fuel costs, will communities look at trash pick-up service every two weeks, instead of every week? In warmer climates, will that create undesirable conditions? Are there opportunities for trash compacting at the home, with some scenting agents thrown-in?
When I was a young dude the regular Saturday event was a trip to the grocery store. There were very few small purchase trips to the store during the week. Oh, how that has changed. Will it revert back to a single trip? Will your own private grocery cart be stored in your garage and on grocery day you WALK to the store, pushing your cart? (Not talking about the carts ripped-off from Kroger's, lined-up outside that apartment block on Main Street. )
Purchasing on the internet is already a huge business and continues to grow. High pump prices will "fuel" even more growth of web buying. Look for local and state governments to develop methods to track those purchases so they can get their share of the spend.
Good investment opportunity: Those who provide the goodies that UPS and FedEx and the others use to operate their business. Trucks, conveyors, scanning tools.
The Cottage Up North
Places that are hundreds of miles from population centers and count on vacationing city-dwellers will be hurting. The success of places such as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is measured by "visitor counts". Those who do make the trip (and spend the big bucks at the pump on the way "up") will find campgrounds that have plenty of openings. But they will also find many small businesses shuttered.
Your Swimming Pool
Look for folks who still have discretionary income will place a swimming pool in their yard. Their new "vacation" now involves their pool, their grill, and the neighbors "down the alley".
Will the Nascar fan base still drive hundreds of miles to distant tracks? Will snowmobilers in the Great Lakes still drive hundreds of miles to race around the north woods, with combustion-engine vehicles? Will those who own "stinkboats" (motorboats) convert to "rag-baggers" (sailboats), because they love the water but can't pay the pump price at the dock? Investment opportunity: New technologies, such as batteries, that power the "toys" that we use.
Walking To The Local Bar
Probably be a good time to own a neighborhood bar. Good times or bad times, many folks head to the tavern. A tavern that can be walked-to will be successfull in the days of $10/gallon gas.
There are so many other "impacts", big and small. I have just thrown-in this post a few. You have many more to add.
What say you?