Stagflation?

wabmester

Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Joined
Dec 6, 2003
Messages
4,459
Purely hypothetical question: if oil prices were to climb, the economy to sputter, and inflation to rise, where would you invest?

Also, at what price of gasoline would you change your driving behavior?

At what gas price would you consider replacing your current car with a hybrid?
 
1) Oil companies, exploration, gas pumpers, and alternate energy companies. Vanguard Energy or that "new age" fund someone mentioned earlier this year if I was lazy. And I am.

2) I drive very little, so any price isnt going to change much. I do my grocery shopping almost daily...I'd probably go to twice a week if gas hit some exhorbitant rate. My parents live 30 minutes away, and we visit each other once a week. That might become problematic if gas hit $5+ a gallon.

3) Not anytime soon. I'd probably slip back into a smaller diesel car to get the same or better mileage without the funny new technology and uncertainties. If someone made a very inexpensive purely electric car that had at least a 20 mile range, could manage a decent city speed, and had a reliability expectation at least as good or better than a current gas econobox, I'd probably buy one of those as our second car as that would suit me for most of my use. Heck, a bike with a couple of big baskets on the back a la the newspaper delivery people would almost suit me.
 
I used to shop gas prices. At some point I stopped.
Now, I ignore the price and buy where I happen to be
when I need gas. I assume there is a pain threshold
which would cause me to alter my driving habits.
Have not seen it yet.

John Galt
 
The last couple of "studies" I saw suggested that three bucks is where people might reconsider their larger gas hogs and how much and when they drive.

We should likely be putting that to the test pretty soon...
 
Yeah, $3 would be my guess. For me, it's going something like this:

$1.80: anger
$2.00: denial
$2.20: acceptance
$2.50: looking to buy my own gas station
$3.00: revenge
 
I've been buying my gas at the warehouse clubs (costco, sams). I'm paying about $1.94 a gallon for regular and $2.17 for premium this week. Thats pretty good for CA.
 
Yeah, $3.00 would give me pause. Neither of our
every day vehicles is all that fuel efficient and mine
is a downright gas hog. I do have the motorcycle
but that has limitations. I suspect that we would
seriously curtail our driving first and switch to other
more efficient vehicles later.

John Galt
 
TH, I'm guessing it's been a week since you last filled up, right?

I'm pretty sure I paid a $1.94 at Costco a week or so ago in WA, and WA prices are generally cheaper than CA. Prices are well above $2 in WA now.

In March, I drove from WA to SoCal (in my 12 mpg monster truck). The trip started at around $1.65/gal, and it hit about $2.20 by the time I hit Grapevine. It was a pretty smooth price gradient -- the further south I went, the higher the price.

In any case, it's a disturbing trend and potentially bad timing. I just hope the Arabs still love us enough not to turn the screws too tight.
 
Thats todays price. The yuba city sams club has the lowest prices I've seen around this area (tahoe to san francisco) for the last few years.

Of course, they may be squeezing the oil out of the leftover pizza into the gas tanks to fill them up a bit.

I guess living near the 3rd largest welfare area in the country has its advantages ;)
 
I'd stay in stock and bond major index funds unless and until I became comfortable with another type of investment. Cash and metals don't appeal to me; nor does market timing.

I dumped my 350 V8 truck a couple of years ago partially in anticipation of rising gas prices and largely to halve immediate car payment expences.

The 2.8L V6 sedan I'm driving now seemed mighty economical at the time, but now I'm wondering if I'll want yet a higher MPG engine.

I don't see myself buying a hybrid in the near to medium future; I worry about the crash survivability and resale value. Bicycling and motorcycling for economy are beginning to enter my "starting to ponder it for the future" area at $2 per gallon, but they aren't serious considerations yet except for fun and bicycling for fitness.
 
Apparently gas is about the only thing that isn't more expensive in northern NJ. I just paid $1.73/gallon for regular last friday.
 
I don't see myself buying a hybrid in the near to medium future; I worry about the crash survivability and resale value.
I haven't heard any negatives about either crash survivability or resale, but I have heard one unexpected negative.

Rescue workers are afraid to use the "jaws of life" to cut you out of a hybrid. Apparently, the battery generates something like 500V, and the wiring goes through the door. The only safe way to cut you out is via the roof.
 
If/when hybrid cars are cost competitive, I will probably
get one. By that time (5 years?) I won't need my
pickup anymore and it will be 10 years old anyway.

BTW, I have been interested in alternate sources of
energy long before the "greenies" invented themselves.

My laundromat uses mucho energy and I, in my
engineering mode, have drawn plans for all sorts
of solar panels, heat absorbing walls, dryer exhaust
heat exchangers, heat exchangers to extract heat
from waste water, etc., etc. I never implemented
any of them because it would have required a new
stand alone building and I did not have the capital or
personal energy. It was fun to think about it though.

My brother has been working with an engineer who
has designed a special electric motor for an all
electric car. It has been on the boards and in prototype testing for years, but they have not yet landed the "big investor" to get off the ground. I helped out a little bit by evaluating the electronic motor controller design. He is an eternal optimist and expects to be a zillionaire any year now.

I am by no means a "tree hugger" but for the life of
me I don't see why we can't do a full court press on
producing hybrid cars. The car industry is just pharting
around and letting the Japanese get the upper hand
again.

Cheers,

Charlie
 
Wab, I would be greatlly surprised if anybody would
design a hybrid car requiring 500 volts. It would be
a criminally stupid thing to do, IMHO. Please let me
know your source if you can dig it up.

Thanks,

Charlie
 
Re:  Not such a dumb design, after all?

Thanks, Wab, I've been having this same "discussion" with my spouse & kid. No wonder firefighters wear gloves & boots with the Jaws of Life.

C'mon, Charlie, we've all seen dumb designs before. The reason I couldn't immediately terminate the above-mentioned discussion is because my family's listened to too many of my bad-design stories. Putting 500V through a doorpost may seem hazardous but it could be very efficient! Then the Accounting Dept gets a bootleg copy of the cost numbers and the next thing you know...

http://www.baddesigns.com
 
Thanks, Wab

I am going to look into this some more and will let
you know if the 500v report is accurate.

Nords, the only reason I can think of to run a motor
on 500v would be to cut down the size of the motor
windings, but then the insulation would bulk up the
windings. Maybe there has been a big breakthrough
in efficiency at 500v, but conventional motors operate
in the high 90% range. There may have been a
breakthrough in battery technology that I have not
heard about but can you imagine 42 batteries stacked
in series to achieve 500v? The thought staggers me.

Cheers,

Charlie
 
Well, I checked out the Toyota Prius on the web and
found out that the battery pack is 201.6 volts and
the motor is rated at 500v "max". What this means,
I think, is that the motor can produce 500v when it
is in the "generator" mode if not loaded by the battery.
For this to happen, the battery cable feed to the
motor/generator would have to be disconnected and
the gas engine would have to be running flat out.
This could theoretically happen in a wreck if you cut
the cable with a saw while the motor was running.

You would certainly notice a 200v shock not to mention
500v so the advise to be careful is well put.

Cheers,

Charlie
 
Wab, I would be greatlly surprised if anybody would
design a hybrid car requiring 500 volts. It would be
a criminally stupid thing to do, IMHO.

The reason relatively high voltages are used has to do with current draw. This defines the size of the necessary conductors and electrical control elements.

Since 1 horsepower = 746 watts, a 30 horsepower electric motor would draw 22.38 kw if it was 100% efficient. Let's say the actual draw is 25 kW ... even at 200V, this is 125 amps of current. A 20V motor with the same power output would require 1,250 amps, rather impractical.

Peter
 
Alternative Transportation

The price of gas around here isn't $2 yet, but I'm roundnig up because I figure it will be there soon. I saw $1.84 on one of the signs on the way to work today.

I came across another interesting form of transportation this weekend: electric-assist bicycles. Some have a motorcycle twist-grip, and some just sense your pedaling and help. I live 5 miles from work and have thought of biking for fitness, but I don't want to wear myself out or get sweatty on the way to work. (I'm very out of shape at the moment.) Supposedly these electric assist bikes can flatten the hills and cancel out headwinds and make biking a more even form of workout.

Search Google for electric assist bicycles for more info. I don't know yet if this is just a new toy I'm big-eyed over or if this will be my first big purchase post-debt-elimination. ($600 for a low-end bike, $1200 and up for good ones; $300-$500 for conversion kits.)

At this price for gas, though, I think the motivation here is still fitness over budget.
 
I've never tried an electric bike, but if your commute is only 5 miles, you could probably find an inexpensive electric scooter with that range. Make sure you get enough horsepower to make it up a hill.
 
Re: Alternative Transportation

I came across another interesting form of transportation this weekend: electric-assist bicycles. Some have a motorcycle twist-grip, and some just sense your pedaling and help. I live 5 miles from work and have thought of biking for fitness, but I don't want to wear myself out or get sweatty on the way to work. (I'm very out of shape at the moment.) Supposedly these electric assist bikes can flatten the hills and cancel out headwinds and make biking a more even form of workout.
.

As you drive to work and back, think about a "you" riding a bike over there in the right lane every day. Good idea? Or likely result in a fast trip to an ICU Unit after getting hit by a car? A guy I worked with once started on a bike kick. He started riding to work and back. He went out of his way to avoid traffic (well, most of it that he could). On a quiet side street intersection, he had a real close call with a car. Not long afterwards, he got tangled up with a street storm sewer grate, and a big fall. More like a catapult launch, really. Got pretty busted up. Couldn't ride for a while. Decided to keep bike riding as a leisure pastime, rather than as a way to work. Probably saved his life. Your mileage (or life!) may be different :D
 
I have to say that bike paths have had a tremendous impact on my quality of life.   I worked in Orange County, CA for about 10 years and bike-commuted most of that time.   They have an extensive network of bike paths along the flood channels and the beach -- I could easily go 30 miles without coming within crash distance of a car.

Even now that I live in a beautiful rural part of the country, I miss that network of urban bike paths.
 
I actually have an electric bike. Used it in my old neighborhood where we had some horrendous hills and lots of them. Gave it to my dad when I moved to the flatlands.

Mine is a currie USPD equipped folding full sized mountain bike (frame folds in half and the wheels and seat come off) so it can be carried in a trunk. I bought it on ebay for about $350. The USPD kit can be added - by a bike mechanic or someone with extensive knowledge of bikes - to an existing bike, and there are several premade bikes using this add-on kit.

What you'll find in these are three types. An "add-on" with friction wheels that engage the front or rear wheel (like the ZAP bike), an "add-on" with an extra gear set on the left side of the front or rear wheel, and an "assist" bike that doesnt have its own separate gear setup, it just boosts you when you pedal. The first two can propel the bike on its own, the latter only provides so much help when you pedal first.

Some of these bikes are VERY small, and some are VERY heavy and all have weight restrictions. Mine was a full size bike that weighed about 40lbs on its own, with a load limit of 200lbs. I weigh 215, and it was too much for it, so the weight limits are not conservative. The weight isnt hard to figure out...these things carry 24 and 36v battery packs usually made up of 12v small lead acid batteries like you might find in a home battery backup unit for a PC. Some bikes are using Nicd or Liion batteries, for twice the price. The speed and range are usually also a little liberal, presuming the passenger is a gerbil and the road is downhill all the way, both ways.

Some of the add-on kits have motor overheat problems. Mine did, so I added a big AMD CPU heat sink to the motor "can". Worked like a charm, but looked pretty funky.

For a non-add-on look for those with a few buckaroos, Heinzmann makes some very elegant and well made bikes. Mercedes even made a beauty once. Ford and Lee Iaccocca got into and out of the business pretty quick. Giant makes a well regarded bike in this area, with a very strong motor. You can get these on ebay and on "fell off a truck" sales for $500-600, but they usually get 750-1250. I actually considered upgrading to a Heinzmann and won one on ebay for $650 and the seller weaseled out on selling it to me.

Laws around these are funny. Many states consider these with a motor up to a certain wattage to be nothing more than a bike. Some require helmets, drivers licenses, and so forth. Some consider them to be mopeds. Many recommend that you carry a moped type insurance policy as an electric moving at 25mph with a set of acid batteries strapped to it can do a little more damage than a regular bike.

Kind of a fund tinkering experience, and I can see where an ER'ed engineer could have some fun with one of these for a week or two, but I wouldnt want to rely on it for any sort of transportation.
 
MY "bike" has a big old V-twin on it. Runs on gasoline,
which (although near $2.00 per gal here) still is way more economical than my monster V-8 pick up.

John Galt
 
Back
Top Bottom