Are Cryptocurrencies Messing With Gas Prices?

Comment on the June 2 posting: No hike in the past seven days in Michigan, although prices have held above $3 in many places. Indiana went up to $3.09.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021, 8AM: Although gas prices have risen steadily since dropping below $2 a gallon after Thanksgiving, readers know I’ve been puzzled as to why prices aren’t even higher. It seems that Big Red and friends have been holding back, selling gas at what appears to me to be a loss since Easter, and I have suggested that the 7-11/Speedway merger was the reason why.

Another theory I have toyed with is that something is wonky with the price of ethanol, which typically makes up 10% of what is coming out of the pumps. J.C. Parets suggested on Twitter on May 24 that ethanol prices (and for that matter Ethan Allen stock), have closely followed the moves in Ethereum, a cryptocurrency, and this might be a case of mistaken identity. That is, there are some traders buying ethanol futures, thinking they are buying Ethereum. However, in our formulas, if you cut the current price of ethanol in half, we are still in price hike territory. So that’s not it.

So, it is still a mystery. What I see is that RBOB prices are up 20-40 cents a gallon since Easter, but retail prices have stayed in the $2.89-$3.09 range, rather than break out to, say $3.39. The best Gas Game strategy right now is to keep the tank close to full, particularly if you can pay under $3 a gallon. I would predict a hike for today or tomorrow, but this pricing dynamics mystery makes me hesitate. -EA

Updated: June 9, 2021 — 8:03 am

7 Comments

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  1. Ed, what do you see for long term gasoline prices? I am seeing things top $4 a gallon here soon.

  2. I found your missing price hike, Ed. Prices in east Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti rose .25 overnight from $2.94 to $3.19.

  3. Prices busted through the $3 mark in Toledo Tuesday or Wednesday—I forget which! Lowest is $2.94-ish, up to the low $3.20s!

  4. Spike to $3.15 in Fort Wayne. Speedway back in charge.

  5. Back to $3.45/3.55 in Chicagoland. BUT spot is 15c lower than when they last hiked to that price. Wholesale is 7c lower. The greed seems to be increasing under 7-11 ownership.

  6. Back to $3.159 in Ohio. Yay!!

  7. If we go to $4, I don’t think we get there very fast, unless there is a hurricane kind of event that disrupts supply significantly.

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