Summertime, when the gasoline goes crazy...

Surely you noticed. Gas was a usual price on Monday, but the very next day, it had jumped 20¢. It's not your imagination. AAA says the national average for a gallon of gas is now $2.23, up 18¢ from two weeks ago.

Hybrids in the News

Memorial Day, the traditional start of the summer travel season, is on the horizon, and prices are already ascending. Up 13¢ in Rhode Island. Up 14¢ in Florida, up 19¢ in Colorado, up 9¢ in Texas and up 15¢ in Massachusetts. Sounds like the harbinger of a hard slog through the dog days, right?

Not necessarily. Economists don't predict an upcoming spike. (Then again, how many of them were correctly warning about the mortgage crisis? But I digress.) One professor of economics at the University of Southern Indiana, Sudesh Mujumdar, points out that the price of a barrel has, in fact, dropped $1 in recent days, which bodes well for summer travel.

Indeed, the Department of Energy says that demand for oil is at is lowest level since 1995 and the supply of crude hasn't been higher since 1990. Refineries are working at 85% capacity, not the near-capacity level that had the industry crying for more refineries recently.