Amazon founder Jeff Bezos lashes out at Biden over gas price tact

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Tech giant Jeff Bezos criticized a tweet from President Biden calling for oil executives to reduce gasoline prices.

The Amazon.com founder was responding to Biden’s criticism of companies running gas stations and setting prices for consumers. “This is a time of war and global peril,” the president tweeted on Saturday. “Bring down the price you are charging at the pump to reflect the cost you’re paying for the product. And do it now.”

Bezos responded over the weekend. “Ouch,” he said in a tweet. “Inflation is far too important a problem for the White House to keep making statements like this. It’s either straight ahead misdirection or a deep misunderstanding of basic market dynamics.”

The national average for gas was at $4.812 on Sunday, according to AAA,  and ticked down to $4.80 on Monday. In Massachusetts, the average price per gallon was $4.85 Monday, according to the travel club.

John Kirby, a senior National Security Council spokesman at the White House, hit back at Bezos’ statement. “We obviously take great exception at the idea that this is somehow misdirection,” Kirby said on “Fox News Sunday.”

He said Biden has proposed measures, including at the Group of Seven summit, that could lower U.S. gasoline prices and has freed oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. “If everybody cooperates on this we can bring the price down by at least about a dollar a gallon,” Kirby said.

Bezos has accused Biden of “misdirection” before. In May, the e-commerce executive hit back at a tweet from the president saying inflation could be tamed by making wealthy corporations “pay their fair share.”

Biden has been criticizing oil and gas firms for making windfall profits. Gas and energy are a leading driver of inflation, posing a major political issue for Democrats with midterm elections only months away.

Meanwhile, there are signs the global surge in the cost of fuel is starting to weigh on demand, according to the world’s biggest independent oil trader.

“There’s very clear evidence out there of economic stress being caused by the high prices, what some people refer to as demand destruction,” said Mike Muller, head of Asia at Vitol Group, who’s based in Singapore. It’s “not just oil, but also liquefied natural gas.”

The so-called crack spread that refiners get from turning West Texas Intermediate crude into gasoline and diesel has reached $50 a barrel, more than three times the average for this century. On Friday, Exxon Mobil Corp. said its second-quarter refining earnings jumped by $5.5 billion.

“Refining margins are at levels that nobody would’ve predicted,” Muller said. “The consensus out there seems to be that they cannot possibly go even higher than this.”

 

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