CNN's 'Your $$$$$' Gets Gas Price Prediction Wrong

     CNN’s “Your $$$$$” is ready for a spike in gas prices. It just hasn’t happened despite predictions.


     On October 20, the show’s guest Peter Beutel, president of energy risk management firm Cameron Hanover, predicted a 20-cent increase in the price of a gallon a gas. How soon? In the next week.


     It didn’t happen.


     In a segment entitled “Addicted to Oil,” co-host Ali Velshi reported that rising crude oil prices could be trouble for the economy. “Oil topping $90 per barrel,” which, Velshi helpfully added, “is 10 bucks from a hundred.” He implied the possibility of breaking the Benjamin-barrier was upon us.


     Velshi then asked Beutel, “Are we going that way?”


     Beutel replied, “Yes, it is possible.”


     Velshi’s co-host Christine Romans mentioned the relationship between rising crude oil prices and the cost of gasoline.


     “Are we going to see this at the pump in the near future?” she asked.


     Beutel confidently predicted gas price increases: “Yes, we are going to see it next week …you will see 20 cents coming next week.”


     The national average for regular gas around the time of Beutel’s October 20 forecast was $2.82, according to the government report at the Energy Information Administration.


     One week later, the AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report dated October 27 reported the average price of gas remained steady the week following at $2.837 for a gallon of regular. By October 29, it had reached $2.856 – an increase of about 3.5 cents since the 20-cent prediction.


     But on the October 20 show, the CNN guest expected gas prices to top $3, pushing the gloomy predictions of an economic downturn caused by higher crude oil prices.


     Velshi continued to lead on the dangers of oil price increases, asking, “Can this cause a recession?”


     Beutel replied, “I think it is [a danger].” But Beutel reminded us of his track record of past predictions: “A lot of people tell me I’m wrong [about a recession] and so far I’ve got to admit I’ve been premature.”


     What some might have called a “wrong prediction” CNN’s guest called “premature,” implying that a recession is still ahead. Beutel said, “We have not seen [a recession] and I thought we would.”


     Beutel got it wrong. Unfortunately, he was not on the October 27 program to explain his error or the welcome news of stable gas prices.


     But CNN was not about to give up talking down the economy. Instead of Beutel, CNN’s Jennifer Westhoven stepped in and made some more predictions on the October 27 edition of “Your $$$$$.” On the segment, “Crude Awakening,” she rhetorically asked at “what point are we going to have these higher [crude oil] prices tip the economy into, potentially, recession?”


     She reported that the current gas price was $2.82, the same as one week earlier. “But there are plenty of analysts who say that we can probably expect to see a jump of 10 to 15 cents in the coming weeks.”


     She didn’t say if one of the analysts was Beutel.



Jack Yoest, a freelancer for the Business & Media Institute, is president of Management Training of DC, LLC and teaches business at the Northern Virginia Community College.