By Jarrett Renshaw NEW YORK (Reuters) - Americans hit the road in record numbers this winter, reigniting a long debate that may determine whether global oil markets hold steady or tumble anew. But many economists and academics are split on whether prices matter when it comes to gasoline demand. On the face of it, the answer seems obvious. The over 40 percent slide in nationwide gas prices last year to nearly $2 a gallon led to more frequent and longer drives, fuelling a 5 percent jump in gas use in December and January, the fastest such growth in 11 years, according to U.S. government data. Yet many energy economists have long argued that it is economic activity and employment, not prices, that hold the greatest sway over how much gas Americans burn each day. "More jobs means more commuters,” says Phillip Verleger, president of consultancy PKVerleger and energy economist. However, some academics are now challenging that notion with more than just anecdotal evidence. A soon-to-be released study that relies on data culled from credit card purchases at the pump suggests consumers are significantly more responsive to prices than previously believed. And the debate will sharpen in the coming weeks, as pump prices have rebounded by nearly 30 percent from their January lows, threatening to dampen the nascent roadway renaissance. At the same time, the U.S. economy is expected to build on its long recovery. Monthly non-farm payrolls data on Friday is expected to show unemployment falling to 5.4 percent, the lowest since 2008, according to a Reuters poll. If the price-effect believers are correct, U.S. gasoline demand, which accounts for about a tenth of the world's oil use at 9 million barrels per day (bpd), may soon slow. DEMAND BOUNCES BACK Most energy economists dismiss gas prices as a harbinger of gasoline demand. In the long term, of course, high prices encourage people to buy more fuel efficient cars or move closer to work, both trends that have tempered demand in recent years. But in the short term it is a basic necessity, with few options to escape paying for it. Wallace Tyner, an energy economist at Purdue University, said rises in income and other economic factors typically have 10 times greater impact on U.S. gasoline demand than prices. In academic parlance, the "demand elasticity" of gasoline is generally estimated at around -0.02 to -0.04 in the short term, meaning it takes up to a 50 percent swing in the price of gasoline to raise or lower demand by 1 percent. In its forecasts, the U.S. Energy Information Administration uses an elasticity figure of -0.02. But recent history is challenging that orthodoxy. "Gasoline prices have dropped around 30 percent, while incomes have gone up no more than 3 percent," said Tyner. "Thus, the drop in gasoline price over this period likely has been about as important as the increase in income." A new preliminary study by Matthew Lewis, a professor of Economics at Clemson University, and three other researchers suggests a 12 percent swing in pump prices would raise or lower gasoline demand by 1 percent, roughly five times higher than the EIA formula. They argue that previous research relied too heavily on flawed monthly federal figures of gasoline demand that do not accurately reflect daily or weekly changes in behavior. Previous studies also did not take into account regional peculiarities, such as access to public transportation. The fall in pump prices "is likely to be the major factor" behind the uptick, Lewis said. TENSION BUILDS Over the latter half of last year, consumers had every reason to buy more fuel, with prices falling and the economy expanding in tandem. Yet it remains to be seen how they respond to an environment of less-cheap prices but more abundant jobs. Some reckon it should make little difference if the economy keeps humming along. Overall, the U.S. economy has added more than 3.5 million jobs since January of 2014. About one in seven of them will commute to work via truck or car, driving an average of 26 minutes, according to U.S. Census data. The construction sector is a particularly strong driver of demand as more carpenters, electricians and pipefitters hit the U.S. roads. “People that build houses drive trucks,” Verleger said. But the fall in oil prices is not universally beneficial. In North Dakota, home to the booming Bakken oil patch, mileage has surged 37 percent since 2010 as the shale drilling boom fueled employment and heavy truck traffic - both of which are slowing sharply as companies slash spending. Nationwide, the number of miles driven has gained just 8 percent. Conversely, New Jersey, which has struggled more than other states to recover economically, saw job growth of 3 percent since 2010, and miles traveled has been relatively flat. “There’s the income effect,” said Joseph Seneca, an economics professor at Rutgers University. “In New Jersey, we’ve had tepid overall economic activity, so it’s not surprising to have tepid growth in traffic volumes.” (Reporting By Jarrett Renshaw; Editing by Diane Craft)
- The Independent
The storms may have abated, but the financial fallout is just beginning
- The Independent
Lindell equates getting coronavirus vaccine to receiving ‘mark of the beast’ pledging allegiance to the devil
- NBC News
Brittany Gosney told investigators she tried to abandon her son in a wildlife area and ran over him when he attempted to get back into her vehicle, according to court documents.
- Business Insider
Biden refused to sanction MBS over Khashoggi's murder because he doesn't want his relationship with Saudi Arabia to get worse, officials say
A US intelligence report released Friday found that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman directly approved the 2018 killing of Jamal Khashoggi.
- Fort Worth Star-Telegram
A group of Democratic senators is urging President Joe Biden to go beyond the $1,400 payment included in his COVID relief package.
- The Daily Beast
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS / Getty ImagesPrince Harry and Meghan Markle are being urged by some commentators in the U.K. to ask CBS to postpone the airing of its Oprah Winfrey interview, in which they are expected to mount a stinging attack on the royal family, as concern mounts over Prince Philip’s prospects of beating an infection.Prince Harry Tells Oprah He Left the Royals Because He Feared Meghan Markle Would Suffer Like Princess Diana Philip, 99, was moved to a specialist heart hospital on Monday and royal sources have been quoted by British newspapers saying the family is “pretty appalled” at the idea of the interview, which Oprah has said sees Meghan saying “pretty shocking things” being broadcast while Philip is so unwell.Penny Junor, author of Prince Harry, Brother, Soldier, Son, told The Daily Beast that airing the interview while Prince Philip was undergoing very public health travails risked making the interview look inappropriate, saying: “Anything could hijack this interview. Philip is ill. He is 99 and could die at any time. They were not to know he would get ill, but it could be seen to be the wrong time. But I doubt it is in their gift to postpone the interview. The control is in the hands of CBS and Oprah.”Robert Lacey, historical consultant for The Crown and author of the definitive royal biography Majesty, told The Daily Beast: “I think it would be a marvelous turnaround for Harry’s image if he took the brave step of canceling the whole thing this weekend—or, if that’s not practical, postponing it at least.”Royal commentator and former editor of Who’s Who Richard Fitzwilliams said it would “surely be appropriate” to postpone the interview.He told MailOnline: “Oprah is their friend and neighbor and would undoubtedly comply if asked and the gesture would I am sure be appreciated by the royal family. If an interview has been extended, as this recently has, it can also be postponed, as this undoubtedly should be.” Royal biographer Robert Jobson told the Mail: “With the Duke of Edinburgh clearly very unwell, the fact that the couple plan to go ahead with airing their self-indulgent, no-holds-barred interview with chat show queen Oprah Winfrey makes them appear heartless, thoughtless, and supremely selfish.“For U.S. broadcast network CBS, this interview is a coup, all about securing big viewing figures and big advert sales around the airing of their exclusive interview. So even if they wanted to Harry and Meghan probably couldn’t dictate terms to Oprah Winfrey and the network now. Too much has been invested.”A TV industry insider told the Mirror: “CBS has sold millions of dollars worth of advertising around the interview, but bosses are aware of the delicacy of the Duke’s heath. They have no loyalty to the royal family, although some feel as though they do to Harry and Meghan. For it to run if Philip’s condition worsened would be like setting off a diplomatic bomb. It would be grossly insensitive and hugely disrespectful.”Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
- Chicago Tribune
Heidi Stevens: Andrew Cuomo sexual harassment allegations got a whole lot ickier when he threw the word ‘mentor’ in the mix
A life hack: If you’re 63 and she’s 25 and you’re her boss, the flirtation is always, every time, definitely unwanted. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing sexual harassment accusations from two former aides, released a statement Sunday acknowledging that his interactions at the office “may have been insensitive or too personal.” “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been ...
Hawn and Russell are still going strong after 38 years together!
- Business Insider
As another stimulus package hangs in the balance, some programs like unemployment benefits are set to expire by the end of March
The current package includes $1,400 stimulus checks, $400 payments in federal unemployment benefits, and funds for coronavirus testing and vaccines.
- The Daily Beast
CNNChris Cuomo opened his primetime CNN show Monday night by acknowledging the growing sexual harassment scandal surrounding his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and telling viewers why he “obviously” would not be covering it. “Before we start tonight, let me say something that I’m sure is very obvious to you who watch my show,” the host began. “And thank you for that. You’re straight with me, I’ll be straight with you.”“Obviously, I’m aware of what’s going on with my brother,” Cuomo continued. “And obviously I cannot cover it, because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so.”>> @ChrisCuomo at the top of @CuomoPrimeTime tonight: "Obviously I am aware of what is going on with my brother. And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively and they will continue to do so." pic.twitter.com/G49mZYTG4D— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 2, 2021 “I have always cared very deeply about these issues and profoundly so,” Cuomo added, declining to elaborate or name which “issues” he was talking about. “There’s a lot of news going on that matters also, so let’s get after that.”The host was speaking at the end of a day in which a third woman accused the New York governor of inappropriate sexual behavior. But as New York Times reporter Annie Karni posted on Twitter in response, while it may make sense for Cuomo to recuse himself from covering his brother, “What never made sense to me was Chris Cuomo covering him when things were going well for Andrew Cuomo.”Especially during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Cuomo was a frequent guest on his brother’s show, where they would joke around together about calling their mom and memorably performed a playful comedy sketch with a giant test swab at the same time the governor’s office was underreporting nursing home deaths. Read more at The Daily Beast.Get our top stories in your inbox every day. Sign up now!Daily Beast Membership: Beast Inside goes deeper on the stories that matter to you. Learn more.
"It’s very hard for any mama especially a mama with boys seeing them grow up so fast," Spears wrote in her post.
- Tribune Publishing
With unusual speed, State Supreme Court agrees to hear appeal of ex-Minneapolis officer Noor's third degree murder conviction, which has implications on Chauvin trial
The state Supreme Court agreed Monday with unusual speed to hear former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor's appeal of his third-degree murder conviction. Noor's lawyer Thomas Plunkett filed a petition last Thursday, asking the court to hear the case. It is extremely rare for the court to grant review so quickly but the charge Noor appealed has implications in the case against Derek ...
Jill Biden will travel to Connecticut and Pennsylvania on Wednesday with newly confirmed Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, a testament to a first lady well on the move.Why it matters: Biden already is the only first lady to hold a full-time job. She also has a portfolio focused on education, cancer and veterans' issues. Now, she’s built a robust staff in the East Wing and is planning a busy travel schedule of her own.Stay on top of the latest market trends and economic insights with Axios Markets. Subscribe for freeBiden will visit schools reopening under her husband's first-100-days pledge, reviewing practices and taking note of what does and doesn't work, a source familiar with her plans tells Axios.She'll lay the foundation Wednesday when she visits Waterford, Pennsylvania, and Meriden, Connecticut — Cardona's hometown, and where he spent two decades as a public educator.Her focus will be an extension of her strategy during the general election campaign, when she launched a multi-state educational tour to review school safety practices.Managing two full-time titles is nothing new for Biden, who continued teaching the eight years she was second lady. Her work now comes with a much bigger spotlight as wife of the president of the United States.Biden has been candid about her role as a political spouse, noting it hasn't come naturally to her.She set the stage for her tenure as first lady as one of her husband's most forceful campaign surrogates, offering personal testimony about his character. Independent and fiercely protective, the self-proclaimed “Philly girl” even pushed away hecklers several times as they tried to interrupt then-candidate Joe Biden on the trail.The first lady worked quickly to fill out the East Wing, bringing on seven commissioned staffers, including a chief of staff, speechwriter and policy director.Her eagerness to travel and promote her agenda is a change from Melania Trump, who didn't move to Washington until a few months after the inauguration because of her son's schooling and who had relatively few public appearances afterward.It also contrasts with Michelle Obama and Laura Bush, who ratcheted up their activities as their school-age daughters aged.Biden made her first solo trip last week, when she visited VCU Health's Massey Cancer Center in Richmond, Virginia. She advocated for cancer research, another of her major priorities as first lady.She also accompanied her husband to Houston last week to survey storm damage and help fill food pantry orders.When the couple returned to Washington amid pouring rain, the president stopped to speak with a commander at Joint Base Andrews. His wife's penchant for setting her own agenda became evident."Dr. Biden seemed to think they'd been out there long enough. She and the umbrella headed to the limo," pool reporter Todd J. Gillman wrote.Like this article? Get more from Axios and subscribe to Axios Markets for free.
- Business Insider
Senate Democrats prepare to advance the $1.9 trillion stimulus plan without a $15-an-hour minimum wage
Democratic efforts to salvage the wage increase with a new tax plan collapsed over the weekend as Senate Democrats gear up to pass the stimulus bill.
- The Week
Wealthy alumni are threatening to pull their donations from the University of Texas at Austin because students have been protesting the university's controversial alma mater song, The Texas Tribune reports. "The Eyes of Texas," which plays after football games, is a cherished tradition for many, but it was historically performed at campus minstrel shows, and the title is linked to a saying from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Students, therefore, have criticized the song as racist for a while now, the Tribune notes, but action has increased over the last year amid protests against police brutality and racial injustice. It appears, however, many donors consider the movement to be the product of "cancel culture" and "Marxist ideology," and emails obtained by the Tribune show they're willing to pull their financial support for the university over the issue. UT-Austin President Jay Hartzell has publicly confirmed the school will keep the song, but the emails suggest they want him to take an even stronger stand. A few donors even called for Black students to leave the university if they didn't appreciate the tradition. "It's time for you to put the foot down and make it perfectly clear that the heritage of Texas will not be lost," one donor whose name was redacted wrote to Hartzell. "It is sad that it is offending the blacks. As I said before the blacks are free and it's time for them to move on to another state where everything is in their favor." Larry Wilkinson, a donor and 1970 graduate of UT-Austin, argued in an email to Hartzell and an interview with the Tribune that because Black students make up only 6 percent of the student body, "the tail cannot be allowed to wag the dog ... Nothing forces those students to attend UT-Austin." Read more at The Texas Tribune. More stories from theweek.comManhattan DA investigators are reportedly focusing on the Trump Organization's chief financial officerHistorian: Biden's support for Amazon workers voting to unionize is 'almost unprecedented'The myth of the male bumbler
- National Review
The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans is asking Catholics to avoid the recently-approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, which it says is “morally compromised” by its “extensive use of abortion-derived cell lines.” In a statement on Friday, the archdiocese noted that while deciding whether to receive the vaccine is an individual choice, that “the latest vaccine from Janssen/Johnson & Johnson is morally compromised as it uses the abortion-derived cell line in development and production of the vaccine as well as the testing.” While a number of COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers have used cells originally derived from an aborted fetus in the 1970s, the archdiocese argues that Johnson & Johnson “extensive use” is worse than that of Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, which used the cells lines only to test their vaccines, according to Religion News Service. This makes the “connection to abortion … extremely remote,” in the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the statement argues, recommending that Catholics choose one of those instead, if provided a choice. While the archdiocese claims the decision is in line with guidance from the Vatican, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the National Catholic Bioethics Center, none of the three have issued statements denouncing the new vaccine. In December, the Vatican issued general guidelines regarding vaccines in which the Holy See said it was “morally acceptable” for Catholics to receive shots that used the HEK293 cells for research. While the HEK293 cells are reportedly originated from an aborted fetus from the 1970s, ethicists have said that the cells and similar cell lines are clones and not the original fetal tissue. The Vatican has made the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine available for all Vatican City residents. Pope Francis reportedly received the shot in January. The Archdiocese of New Orleans’ statement comes after leaders of the USCCB and leaders from other religious organizations sent a letter to the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration last spring regarding ethical concerns over the COVID-19 vaccines. “We are aware that, among the dozens of vaccines currently in development, some are being produced using old cell lines that were created from the cells of aborted babies,” the letter read. “For example, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has a substantial contract from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and is working on a vaccine that is being produced using one of these ethically problematic cell lines.” However, a USCCB memo written by Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, and Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, who chairs the organization’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, argued that the vaccines are moral.
- Business Insider
Some people might prefer Johnson & Johnson's shot because it was tested on variants, has milder side effects, and is easier to get.
- Business Insider
10 Senate Democrats tell Biden to implement recurring stimulus checks after $1.9 trillion bill is passed
A group of senators thinks direct payments should be sent out regularly as the US economy gets back on its feet.
- Associated Press
Hendrick Motorsports believes in developing talent within. The Hendrick system makes it a priority to nurture its young talent and incentivize staying with the organization. The formula produced eight different Cup Series crew chiefs the last two decades, including championship-winners Chad Knaus and Alan Gustafson.
The baby was born nearly sixth months after Hilaria Baldwin gave birth to her son Eduardo "Edu" Pao Lucas.