Economy

Gas Prices Soar as Economy Falters

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President Bush said Friday that the economy is going through a "tough time." One way the economic turmoil is affecting most Americans is at the gas pump. In Los Angeles, drivers react to California's highest gas prices ever.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

From the studios of NPR West, this is DAY TO DAY. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ANTHONY BROOKS, host:

I'm Anthony Brooks. Coming up, double trouble in Detroit. The mayor struggles to keep his job, and Chrysler struggles to cut costs.

BRAND: Let's begin with the overall economy. The Wall Street firm Bear Stearns, struggling in the credit crunch, was forced to turn to another bank and to the federal government for help. And Wall Street is worried that the giant corporation is in such trouble that these emergency moves may not be enough.

BROOKS: Meanwhile, a new report shows that consumer confidence is down to its lowest level in years. The dollar is also at its lowest level in more than a decade, and gold way up, hovering around the thousand dollar mark.

BRAND: Yesterday, President Bush's working group on financial markets reported that the economy may need more regulation to turn things around and to prevent future problems. Today in New York, the President himself talked about the economy.

President GEORGE W. BUSH: I'm coming to you as an optimistic fellow. I've seen what happens when America deals with difficulty.

BROOKS: The president said the country is obviously going through a tough time, but he added this.

President BUSH: In the long run I'm confident that our economy will continue to grow because the foundation is solid.

BROOKS: More and more economists are now saying the country is actually in a recession; true or not, it certainly feels like one.

BRAND: It feels that way even though not everyone is being hit by every economic problem. Most people are not being foreclosed upon, most people are not losing their jobs.

BROOKS: On the other hand, just about everybody is facing what we might call the gas station crisis. Our senior producer Steve Proffitt caught up with some motorists here in Los Angeles.

STEVE PROFFITT: How much do you think it's gonna cost you today?

Unidentified Woman #1: Sixty dollars.

Unidentified Woman #2: It will run me about 40 to 50 dollars to fill it up.

Unidentified Man #1: It's almost empty. It's gonna be probably like 65.

PROFFITT: Okay, we're at 23, 24, 25; it goes very fast.

Unidentified Man #1: Yeah, it really does.

Unidentified Man #2: I remember filling my motorcycle up for 25 cents.

Unidentified Man #3: Yeah, the prices have escalated very rapidly and it's hurting us all - 63.

PROFFITT: Yow.

Unidentified Woman #3: Oh my gosh.

Unidentified Man #e: Seventy-three, unbelievable.

Unidentified Man #5: Looks like it's going to run over.

Unidentified Man #3: Seventy-six times 33 cents.

Unidentified Woman #1: So yeah, there you go - 17.6 gallons for $68, and I was three quarters full, so I have no idea what I'm talking about.

(Soundbite of laughter)

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