Grumbling about high fuel prices is currently a national daily sport in the US.

This chart helps quantify the actual pain by expressing gasoline and other energy costs as a percentage of consumer expenditures.

Source: FRED

Looking at energy spending over time, we see it tends to go up in economic expansions and fall in recessions. More broadly, people spent a lot more of their income on fuel in the period between World War II and the early 1980s than they do now.

The current situation nevertheless hurts, perhaps because it developed quickly. It’s also the reversal of a multi-year downtrend.

(This is an understatement!) There’s also every reason to think it will get worse before it improves. (Let’s make America energy independent again!)

Thanks to John Mauldin for the information this week.

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