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There is a strange phenomenon currently apparent in the American economy. The New York Times of 19th October reported it like this:

When gas prices fall, Americans reliably do two things that don’t make much sense. They spend more of the windfall on gasoline than they would if the money came from somewhere else. And they don’t just buy more gasoline. They switch from regular gas to high-octane.

A new report by the JPMorgan Chase Institute, looking at the impact of lower gas prices on consumer spending, finds the same pattern as earlier studies. The average American would have saved about $41 a month last winter by buying the same gallons and grades. Instead, Americans took home roughly $22 a month. People, in other words, used almost half of the windfall to buy more and fancier gas.