Speculation on Oil Futures Driving Up Gas
I paid just under $4 a gallon today for my gas. I have made a habit since 2008 to fillup when I get to a half a tank, that way I don’t shell out $70 each time. I consolidate all my errands and do very little pleasure driving. I just read where there is NO SUPPLY PROBLEM IN THE U.S – NO SHORTAGE – HIGHER PRICES ARE A RESULT of GOUGING AND AGGRESSIVE TRADING IN OIL FUTURES.
One way to attempt to constrain these volatile mini-bubbles is for the Commodities Futures Trading Commission to impose “position limits,” essentially limits on the size of the bets that speculators can make. The New Deal–era Commodities Exchange Act gives the CFTC power to curb “excessive speculation,” and the just-passed Dodd-Frank bill explicitly calls for the CFTC to promulgate position limits.
Not surprisingly, the big Wall Street banks like Goldman Sachs don’t want this, and the two Republican members of the commission don’t favor any position limits rules with real teeth. To his great credit, CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler (a former Goldman banker I was quite critical of when nominated to the position) has taken a strong leadership position in advocating strong limits, and Democratic commissioner Bart Chilton has been supportive as well. That leaves the deciding vote in the hands of Democratic Commissioner Michael Dunn, who’s expressed misgivings.
Now, it just so happens Dunn’s term is up in June and last night MSNBC’s Ed Show reported that the White House has begun vetting his replacement. This may seem obscure and technical, but given the precariousness of the recovery and political explosiveness of gas prices, nominating a replacement enthusiastic about reigning in excessive speculation may be the single most important decision the White House makes between now and Election Day.