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Obama, Clinton, Bush, Walker, and Energy

Like we mentioned last week, The New York Times today highlighted that lower energy prices aren’t necessarily providing American households with as much relief as they would like. In today’s story in The Upshot, David Leonhardt reminds Americans that, at an average price of $2.03 per gallon, they have seen gasoline for far less money. From 1986 to 2002, the average price of gas in this country was $1.87, he wrote.

In our Business Cycles Monthly report, released last week, AIER suggested that lower gas prices were having only a small impact on consumer spending. We noted that in the third quarter, 5.2 percent of consumer spending went toward energy, down from 5.4 percent in the second quarter. Our senior research fellow, Bob Hughes, said the difference wasn’t all that big.

Leonhardt, meanwhile, comes to a somewhat different conclusion. He quotes Moody’s Analytics, which said that if energy costs stay at the levels they are at now, Americans would have $180 billion more to spend this year, amounting to about to 1.2 percent of Americans’ income, and more for lower-income families.

Leonhardt discusses the environmental tradeoffs that would come with a new era of cheap energy, which he said could help combat slow growth in wages. And he discusses the impact on the upcoming presidential election.

“Political leaders — from President Obama and Hillary Clinton to Jeb Bush and Scott Walker — have been signaling in recent weeks that they consider the wage slowdown to be the country’s most pressing issue. And it’s clear that energy plays an important role in it,” Leonhardt writes.

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