Gas guzzlers can look forward to a decline in pump prices

Filling the tank will cost less in the months to come, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Today Georgia’s average price per gallon of gas rests around $2.51, but GasBuddy.com predicts Americans will be paying less than $2 per gallon before Christmas.

The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) expectation is less hopeful. The EIA also anticipates a drop in oil prices but predicts the gallon prices will bottom around $2.27, according to AJC.

Dr. John Duffield, Georgia State’s director of academic assessment, said students can look forward to an extra buck in their pockets.

“Gas is a big chunk of the budget for students,” he said. “But people don’t immediately spend what’s been saved.”

Duffield said previous fuel price drops indicate people take a while to adapt to the fuel savings.

“People pay off debt,” he said. “The economy as a whole is just beginning to benefit from last year’s drop. People were hesitant to spend the savings and the negative impact on the oil industry was much more immediate.”

Still, Duffield said, for each one cent decrease in fuel prices, Americans save $1 billion to push into the consumer economy.

Georgia State finance student Alex Compton said he thinks cheaper gas should spur significant economic stimulation for the country.

“With gas prices approaching new lows by the holidays, we can expect to see an increase in consumer spending,” he said. “This should work to drive the economy and potentially lead to an increase in GDP in the fourth quarter.”

But Georgia State’s Charles Courtemanche, associate economics professor, said wallets may not be the only thing fattened by gas price declines.

“My research linked gas prices and obesity,” he said.

Courtemanche’s studies suggest cheap gas could introduce a surge of restaurant visits and automobile use.

“Higher gas prices could yield less obesity,” he said. “As gas gets cheaper, the cost of driving goes down while public transit or walking remains the same… The majority of marginal people will drive more than usual.”

Still he said the impact can take years to become noticeable.

“It’s a gradual effect that peaks after about 6 years,” Courtemanche said. “But you see something within the first year.”

Still, Duffield said these price changes are merely tentative.

“There are rigidities and lags that make the oil market price volatile,” he said.

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