gas prices

Few images evoke the lazy hazy days of summer more than a convertible driving down the coast. Soon, though, that image may be pure nostalgia.

Sales of convertibles have seen a steep decline, falling by more than 40 percent in the past decade alone. And with new, tougher fuel economy standards, the days of riding with the top down could be numbered.

Jack Nerad of Kelley Blue Book has owned a 1962 convertible Corvette for nearly 40 years. Nerad lives in Orange County, Calif., a seemingly ideal place for a convertible, but his classic car often stays at home.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Flickr / jeepersmedia

Oil prices hit a six year low earlier this week as China devalued its currency.

The move is sparking fears of a slowing global economy.

KOSU's Michael Cross spoke with Russell Evans, executive director of the Steven C. Agee Economic Research and Policy Institute at Oklahoma City University about the possible heightened anxiety for the rest of 2015.

Evans says like most everyone else in the state, he's hoping things get back to normal soon.

Oil prices took another drop Monday, rattling the stock market and putting more downward pressure on gasoline prices.

For oil companies, the price slump is hitting hard at profits, but for U.S. motorists, the downshift has brought savings at the pump.

Never before has the U.S. had so much oil spurting up out of the ground and sloshing into storage tanks around the country. There's so much oil that the U.S. now rivals Saudi Arabia as the world's largest producer.

But there has been some concern that the U.S. will run out of places to put it all. Some analysts speculate that could spark another dramatic crash in oil prices.

Continued job growth has boosted prospects for the U.S. economy, but it continues to face some tricky crosswinds. The big drop in oil prices and a stronger dollar both help the economy and hurt it. Add to that the recent slowdown in global growth.

Lots of economists have suggested the big drop in oil prices is a gift to consumers that will propel the economy. David Kotok of Cumberland Advisors is one of them. He argues that cheaper oil will ultimately be a positive.

Hard times have hit the oil fields. A barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude has dropped from a high of over $100 to less than $50. But Tracy Perryman, a small oilman in Luling, Texas, has learned how to survive the lean times.

Oil companies that take on a lot of debt sometimes don't survive the downturns. But veterans of oil busts have learned how to plan for the inevitable price plunges.

By now, the surprise of cheap gas has probably worn off.

But drivers on the hunt for the very best prices have noticed a new trend: Small, independent gas stations are often the first to cut prices when the price of crude oil falls. This has a lot to do with how gas is bought, sold and moved from pipeline to pump.

When oil prices shot up a few years ago, many transportation and delivery businesses started adding fuel surcharges to their prices.

Now, fuel prices are plunging, but lots of those surcharges still linger, and consumer advocates are crying foul.

The drop in the cost of oil is a huge factor in the airline industry, where 30 percent of all expenses are for fuel. But airlines, along with other industries with large fuel expenses, have been slow to respond with lower prices.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

JOSEPH JEAN-BAPTISTE: I'm Joseph Jean-Baptiste from Miami, Florida. Gas prices have been beautiful. I've been putting Supreme - 93 - because prices are so low.

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