Still Playing The Gas Game

Comment on the June 10 prediction:  Yup, prices rose on June 11, to $2.99.  CORRECT.

Thursday, June 25, 2015, 7:00PM:  It was Father’s Day, 13 years ago, when my original essay appeared in the Grand Rapids Press.  Soon afterwards, I started posting predictions to a web site.  After a while, this current site,, was established, as I teamed up with Patrick DeHaan.  Bill Eby joined us later, and he has regularly updated The Spike Line, and also contributed occasional posts and comments.

Will we be here for another 13 years?  We plan to be.  The need is still there, as we have seen: gas prices have ridden a roller coaster the past twelve months.  We won’t always be CORRECT, but we’ll do the best we can.

We continue to welcome your comments.  Please, though, keep the focus on gas price issues.  And if you have suggestions for improving the site, please e-mail me, using the link on the left side of the page.

Also, a reminder that you can get Gas Game updates in a number of ways.  Along with the web site, we have a Facebook page and a Twitter feed, and you can also subscribe to get e-mail updates.  Use what is best for you!

Updated: June 25, 2015 — 6:52 pm


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  1. Thanks, let’s keep playing the game, as we live in the one lucky area of the country where people can come out ahead on gas prices by simply paying attention for five minutes a day!

  2. Furthermore, let’s hope that our employers, suppliers, service providers, and customers are all so “lucky” and “win” the “game” otherwise the extra money they forfeit by “losing” at the spinning wheel of gas prices could have an impact on our bottom line…

    The original essay was very interesting. Apparently 20c profit on $1.50 / $30 crude gas did not raise very many eyebrows back then. So the expectation of similar numbers on $3.00 gas / $60 crude is not unfounded. After all, we all know that refining $60 crude costs twice as much as refining $30 crude, delivering $3.00 gasoline costs twice than what delivering $1.50 gasoline, and buying commercial time for $3.00 gasoline is twice as expensive as $3.00 gasoline.

    It seems like yesterday that we were paying $6.00 a gallon when crude made it to $120, and I still have nightmares of $7.50 a gallon in the brief time crude danced with $150.

    But of course the above is pure fantasy. Back then it seems gasoline was tied a lot more to the price of crude, and crude was climbing and changing price daily. Every opportunity for ‘geopolitical trouble’, ‘OPEC cuts’, ‘Malta Oil Production disrupted by seagulls’, and the such resulted in wild swings in the price of crude which of course resulted in instant gasoline price changes. Then all of a sudden crude has been stable for months despite the seagulls, and here we are looking at other forms of wildlife, refinery issues, and many other reasons to justify price increases (necessitating playing “the game”).

  3. And, obviously, for some people complaining is far more interesting than winning the game.

    Oh, well, the rest of us appreciate it anyway.

  4. The impact to my bottom line of me winning the game every week for a year is maybe $200/year. The impact to my bottom line from others not winning is a lot higher.

    I can take the approach of an educated person and consider both sides of the equation or I can bury my head in the corporate sand and feel great about “saving” $3 a week while ignoring the deeper implications. But then, there are entire companies whose livelihood depends on allowing their customers to “win”…

  5. Thanks for the work you put in. Despite no post catching the spike on Thursday, what I have learned from this website allowed me to make my own prediction over on the Indy Gas Buddy site. I will admit that there was no indication of a Michigan spike, but our spike line deviation was under a nickel and a couple days later just over a penny. The next update showed a negative spike line deviation, so on Wednesday I stated a spike was eminent. What I’ve learned here is that a spike is likely once the deviation gets below a dime and is eminent when in negative territory. Thanks for educating me!

  6. Well here’s a new one. Always coming up with new excuses for raising oil prices.. When one reason doesn’t apply anymore, no worries, just come up with another.

  7. Before being purchased by a a very large cell phone company, I worked for a very large regional cell phone company. I knew almost every aspect of the business. People prefer to know what things are going to cost them. For example, people would buy a 500 minute plan even though they only needed the 300 minute rate plan and could buy extra minutes once in a while for 25 cents a miinute. 90% of the time, they wouldn’t need to buy the minutes,, but they would rather pay the higher price for the 500 minute plan so they could PLAN their expenses. We saw it all the time.

    I think the swing in the prices that we see so often plays into that same logic. I know I would like to know with some sort of reliability, what next week’s gas is going to cost. Planning my purchases around the spot market is much more of a business tactic than a driving decision that the tank is at 1/2, time to fill it up. If you win the game, it saves you $2 to $4 a week. If you don’t play the game, you underwrite the players. Thank you!

    Waxing just a small bit of sarcasm: In the ’80s I used to tell kids in my classes that there was a limit to how smart a person could be, but there was no limit to how stupid a person could be. And it seems there is no limit to reasons to raise the cost of a “tight supply” commodity (gasoline). And there are severe limits to how many ways there are to lower the cost, and taxes and over regulation, stand in the way.

  8. This is a case where micro and macro economics collide. Think that you’re a resort or hotel manager and don’t drive too much. You play the game and win.

    But the rest of the people get spooked by the bouncing prices and cut down on travel and hotel, and pretty quickly your livelihood is at risk.

    Haven’t we learned anything from the airline pricing games?

  9. I just checked out the Spike Line page. Looks like we are in for a spike really soon. Top-em all off if you got-em.

  10. Ohio is still more than 20 cents above. We SHOULD be good.

  11. Thanks for all the kind and thoughtful comments. New post coming soon.

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