Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Things Changing?

People don't expect gas prices to come back down.

After more than five years of petroleum price increases, American consumers appear to be expecting the worst. A CNN poll taken last week showed that 59 percent of Americans believe it is very likely that they will pay $5 a gallon for gasoline before the end of the year and that an additional 27 percent say it is somewhat likely.

Economists say these expectations make it more probable that people will change behavior rather than simply wait for a turn in the traditional up-and-down cycle of commodity prices. "People now realize that prices may come back down, but they're not going down to where they were," said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Economy.com. "We're going to have to live with higher energy prices for a while. And that's affecting their behavior and what they buy and don't buy."

For Rusty Davis, a handyman from Arlington, the high cost of gasoline is changing the way he runs his business. He has started to refuse jobs outside the county. When he does travel to jobs, he now takes his fuel-efficient car and leaves behind his work van, which gets only 12 miles to the gallon. He also used to do free estimates in person. Now he does them over the phone.