Sticker shock

Pity poor Ford. They were just turning things around, when high gas prices started decimating their highly profitable truck business. Now they're having to pare their white collar salary budget by 15% as their expected return to profitability in 2009 evaporates.

I was talking to a cab driver the other day about gas prices; much of the DC fleet is made by Ford. These cars get, according to the driver, only 10-12 miles a gallon, presumably because they spend so much time in stop-and-start traffic. The cab drivers are extremely worried about gas prices. At what price point did that worry kick in, I asked. He said $3.50--that was when it really started hurting. The problem is that with prices so high, it's hard even to make up the lost profit by driving more.

The airlines are suffering too, of course; Continental just became the latest to announce massive cutbacks. The next hit will be to parts and airframe makers, followed by their suppliers . . .

Supply shocks are not happy occasions. But if the seventies are any guide, at least this one will leave our economy less driven by oil than it was before.