Explaining Southern California's economy

High California gas prices are actually a good thing

Mercer 20784

Corey Bridwell/KPCC

Gas prices at a Chevron station in Pasadena, CA.

Time to panic about rising gas prices in the Golden State? Most definitely, if you accept the L.A. Times' analysis:

The [gas] price surge has been particularly steep in California, in part because of maintenance at some refineries that make the state's cleaner-burning gasoline. Statewide, average pump prices for regular gasoline crossed the $4 mark over the weekend and reached an average of $4.031 a gallon Monday, up 5% in just the last week and nearly 9% higher than a month ago.

The price of oil is also moving up, due largely to two factors: worries about unrest in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear program; and commodities speculation. That second one is significant. Hedge funds could be playing the price run-up two ways, by betting on higher prices in the future, or by "shorting" the market and wagering that the price will come down.