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Best of the Blogs: Will Gas Prices Skyrocket This Summer?


Minyanville's daily roundup of some of the best financial commentary from around the Web.

This column highlights the most interesting and useful business and financial commentary from around the Web each day. Use our comments section to post your own suggestions for blog content that you've read or written.
Wall Street Journal: Driver's Seat
"Gasoline prices could hit record levels this summer, the government forecast Thursday, and gasoline consumption could sink to the lowest level since 2001. But what really matters to you is how much more that annual summer road trip will cost. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has done some math, and concluded the answer is: About enough to buy one or two cappuccinos. The EIA, in its weekly report on fuel prices, said it now projects that the average price of a gallon of gasoline could hit a record $3.95 this summer. Gasoline prices vary by region, and in some parts of the country gasoline prices are already over $4 a gallon." (Also read Can Gasoline Be Held to a Fair Trade Standard?)
Zero Hedge
"As if anyone needed another example of who is really running the show, the S&P 500 (SPY) cash index (an index that tracks the weighted performance of 500 underlying and supposedly fundamentally idiosyncratic companies) closed at 1399.99 after breaching the almighty 1400 earlier in the afternoon. The Dow (^DJI) Industrials failed to close in the green for the month and Dow Transports notably diverged bearishly today as the afternoon's ramp-fest in equities - and notably nothing else - gave hope to hope-less. Between a weak/strong (you decide) jobless claims data, a dismal Kansas Fed (and Chicago NAI negative print) juxtaposed with what was 'supposedly' strong pending home sales (contracts not signings note), it seemed some early QE-hope spillover from Bernanke yesterday got us going (with gold outperforming) early on but as the US day-session began, stocks took off from their lows, stabilized into the European close, then re-accelerated - running stops to the early April non-farm-payroll print levels."
Wired: Epicenter
"Earlier this month, I had an evening meeting in D.C. followed by a class to teach in Boston the following day. I had just one choice for a flight: the US Airways 9 p.m. shuttle. Attempting to board right after the first-class passengers, I was blocked by the gate agent, who pointed to the viola on my back: "You'll have to gate check that. That's a musical instrument, and we don't allow those on board... There was plenty of room in the overhead compartments at that moment. Then came the moment of truth: I asked whether the case could travel in the closet at the front of the plane. 'No,' she said. 'That's just for first class.'... Just imagine trying to run a business that is utterly dependent on a single delivery network - a gatekeeper - that can make up the rules on the fly and knows you have nowhere else to go. To get the predictability you need to stay solvent, you'll be told to pay a 'first class' premium to reach your customers. From your perspective, the whole situation will feel like you're being shaken down: It's arbitrary, unfair, and coercive. Netflix (NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings is feeling just this way. He's trying to get Americans to care about Comcast's (CMCSA) power to exempt "first class" streaming video delivered to Xboxes from its monthly internet usage caps." (Also read Comcast Earnings Show US Big on Broadband.)
New York Times: Bits
"Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) reported their quarterly earnings in the last week, and they told nearly identical stories: Both are making a lot of money just from mobile data - the fees customers pay to reach the Internet over their networks. Some numbers shared by AT&T make it clear why. Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T Mobility, said during Tuesday's earnings call that about 60 percent of smartphone customers were paying for tiered data plans, and of those, 70 percent were choosing the higher-priced plans. For its tiered data plans, AT&T charges $20 for 300 megabytes of data, $30 for three gigabytes or $50 for five. (A gigabyte is 1,000 megabytes). Verizon's data plans are similar: $30 for two GB, $50 for five GB or $80 for 10 GB. Mr. de la Vega's statement suggests that the majority of people on AT&T's tiered plans are paying at least $30 for three GB, or more."
Washington Post: Wonk Blog
"I spent my first year at The Washington Post sitting about 10 feet away from Binyamin Appelbaum. It was a great learning experience. Appelbaum, who is now at the New York Times (NYT), doesn't ask questions so much as he springs traps. And he sprung one on Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke at a press conference on Wednesday: 'Unemployment is too high, and you said you expect it to remain too high for years to come. Inflation is under control, and you say that you expect it to remain under control. You say that you have additional tools available for you to use, but you're not using them right now. Under these circumstances, it's really hard for a lot of people to understand why you are not using those tools right now. Could you address that? And specifically, could you address whether your current views are inconsistent with the views on that subject that you held as an academic?'" (For related content, see Is Ben Bernanke a Villain or a Hero?)
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