FAKE US RECOVERY: More fuel for Slog’s argument

Further to yesterday’s Slogpost about the chimera of American growth, I am indebted to an Asia-based Slogger for this massively helpful addition to an understanding of Obamacon:

‘Any time I hear anybody burbling about a US recovery, I ask them to explain this graph:

It shows daily petrol sales in the US by refiners, 1983 to date. Sales are down by nearly a half since 2008. All the QE, all the bailouts, the tax rebates, cash for clunkers, low interest rates — all have failed, according to this simple and direct measurement of health.

It’s a fascinating chart, and it’s even worse if you factor in population. I did two minutes’ due diligence on Google and was surprised to learn that the population has increased by 34 per cent since 1983, from 234 million to 313 million. The 313m are buying far less fuel than did the 234m. Not just less per person, but less in total. Less than 30 million gallons a day today, compared to just over 50 million then. And then it was pretty consistent around 60 million a day for 20 years, until 2006-07.

And in the table below the graph, look at that astonishing drop in October 2011, to 32m gallons from 42 in September. Whoosh! It has since continued to drop and has been below 30m every month this year so far, with January 2012, at 28.4m, the lowest monthly total to be seen anywhere in the whole 29-year table.

Unless the US has started importing 20 or 30 million gallons of petrol per day (the chart shows sales “by refiners”, which presumably means in-country refiners), I see no way to argue with it.’

Me neither, Gasman. It works for me. Muchos gracias.