Stock market manipulation: Is it foreign or domestic?
Posted: Friday, June 20, 2008 9:22 pm Because of my suspicious nature, I cannot believe this sudden surge in pump prices was the natural result of an active stock market. It happened so fast. It was so repetitive. Every day new and higher prices were displayed in large figures on convenience store marquees. “It’s worse than the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,” an airline official said. “It just keeps coming in waves. At least 9-11 was a one-time event.” We kicked when gas got over $2 a gallon; now we’d be happy to see those numbers again. You know the score: Gasoline, $4 a gallon; diesel fuel, $4.50 a gallon. Even higher, in some locations. They tell us it’s “leveled off,” meaning prices have stabilized and might even go back down. Don’t you believe it. They are using stock market psychology to play mind games with your head. How so? I offer a scenario. But first, some background. For a long time, on commodities exchange markets, the price of a barrel of crude oil traded at about $66 a barrel. Then overnight it closes at $90, then $95, and soon it’s over $100. Of course, as oil goes, so goes gasoline and diesel fuel and a lot of other byproducts of crude oil. With each increase in the trading price of crude oil, there is a corresponding increase in the retail price of gas and diesel and such. Even aviation gas took a hit, going from $100 a barrel to $160 a barrel. You can imagine what that did to the airline industry. And now, the scenario: Crude oil zooms to a shocking new height of about $130 a barrel. Gas retails for $4 a gallon, diesel at $4.50 a gallon. Of course, all of us kick and scream. Suddenly, the retail market seems to “stabilize” at those prices. There’s even a couple of days when the prices dropped two or three cents. Big deal. But the point is, you get used to paying the higher prices. You even adjust your lifestyle and drive a little less to conserve fuel and money. Just when you think you’ve learned to live with this thing, you are hit with yet another round of obscene prices, this time more gouging than the last. It starts all over again. Gas soars to $6.20 a gallon, diesel to $7.20 a gallon, and the end is not in sight. Will this happen? I say it will. Look what happened to the retail price of cigarettes. It soared to unheard-of heights — $2.89 and $2.94 a pack — and “settled down.” What happened next? The price kept inching upward, two and three cents at a time, and now a pack will cost you well over $3 plus tax. A pesky thought keeps buzzing around the environs of my suspicious mind, it being this: Is this phenomenon the work of natural forces in the stock market or is it being manipulated from behind the scenes? If it’s manipulation, who or what is behind it? And are they domestic or foreign in origin? A nutty notion? Perhaps. But that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Why? Because there’s no way I’d ever believe it was coincidence. As oil goes, so goes gasoline, diesel, aviation gas and a host of other byproducts of oil needed for a mobile society. So don’t think gas prices have peaked at $4 a gallon. It’s only just begun. What choice? Our need for oil permeates every nook and cranny of our society. You not only pay more for gas and diesel, you pay more for groceries and other goods. You pay more taxes to purchase fuel for vehicles used by local, state and national governments. You pay more for electricity and natural gas and for garbage pickup at your home. Yes, you pay. What choice do you have but to pay? If that magnificent driving machine is going to roll, you must feed it a fossil fuel. So you pay, and somebody somewhere has figured a way to make you pay more and more and … Obscene profits Next time you fill up your gas tank, ponder this: In the period January-March 2008, the three biggest oil companies made a combined profit of $36 billion. And you can believe their CEOs and other top officials couldn’t care less about the financial hardships this thing has imposed on John Q. Public. Are they manipulating the commodities market, at least so far as oil is concerned? I do not know. I just have suspicions. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they’re knee-deep in it. They have little to lose and much to gain, including more profits. Are countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, even our “friends” in Saudi Arabia behind it? Are they committing huge sums of money to the stock market through middle men? Why would they, in the first place? Well, what better way to wreak havoc on this country than to wreck our economy? Keep it up, keep hitting the hated Americans until their economy implodes. Like I say, perhaps a nutty notion. But it may not be far from the truth. What to do? But what can be done about it? One possible solution is price control. The federal government could set a minimum and maximum price for gas and other byproducts of crude oil. I think it needs to be considered. Our very survival may be at stake. To impose price control would relieve us of greedy speculators whose sole interest is in driving the market up and making huge profits. Also, I think it would also give the nation a certain measure of stability. A precedent To impose price control is nothing new in this country. The precedent was set back in the 1930s during the Great Depression. In one of the court’s written opinions, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis made a bold statement. He characterized the Depression as “an emergency more serious than war.” In January 1934, the U.S. Supreme Court, by a 5-4 decision, upheld a Minnesota moratorium on mortgages. The opinion, written by Justice Charles Evans Hughes said, “While emergency does not create power, emergency may furnish the occasion for the exercise of power.” And that’s not all. In March 1934, the high court, in another 5-4 decision, upheld a New York law which created a board to set minimum and maximum retail prices for milk. In the court’s opinion, Justice Owen Roberts wrote, “Neither property rights nor contract rights are absolute.” So it can be done. And it could be done if we had a Congress with fire in its gut. About all that Congress has done is hold a couple of hearings where fatcat oil industry officials who had been called to testify lectured the lawmakers. And yes, we are in an emergency situation. Something needs to be done. Our national leaders ought not to be content to sit around and fiddle while Rome burns. Published in The Messenger 6.20.08