Others also smelling a rat as speculators reap benefits

Others also smelling a rat as speculators reap benefits

Posted: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:06 pm
By: John Brannon Messenger Staff Reporter

Your attention is invited to the “Just a Thought” column published in the June 20 issue of The Messenger. Its headline was “Stock market manipulation: Is it foreign or domestic?” In it I say, “A pesky thought keeps buzzing around the environs of my suspicious mind, it being this: Is this phenomenon the work of natural forces or is it being manipulated from behind the scenes? … A nutty notion? Perhaps, (but) there’s no way I’d ever believe it was coincidence.” For those of you who agreed it was indeed a nutty notion, I offer this tidbit of breaking news. I have been seemingly vindicated by a highly placed public official — U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.). The July 15 issue of The Wall Street Journal published Durbin’s Letter to the Editor. In it, Durbin responds to a column published June 11 and written by Kimberley Strassel (“Dick Durbin and the Chicago Boys”). In his reply to Ms. Strassel, Durbin declares that his bill to curb excessive speculation that’s driving up prices in the oil market isn’t about protecting the Chicago futures industry, “it’s about protecting consumers who are being taken to the cleaners at the pump.” He goes on to say that the first step to preventing excessive speculation is to increase the number of investigators at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission. “My legislation authorizes 100 new investigators and other employees, and the appropriations bill I authored would fund those positions,” he says. Now comes a revelation that warmed the cockles of my Mississippi heart. “Why more investigators?” Durbin continues. “The volume of futures trading has risen more than 10-fold since 1997, while the staff of the CFTC has fallen by 21 percent. We need more people investigating market manipulation and putting a stop to it. But those investigators need more information to detect unfair speculation in the markets.” Unfair speculation? Do you wonder where the speculators get all those big bucks to “invest” in the market? I do. It would be interesting to trace the money back to its point of origination. Durbin continues his letter. “My legislation would close the ‘London loophole’ that blocks access to data about trades that take place in London. The CFTC needs information about all trades, not just those in the U.S., in order to detect and stop market manipulation or excessive speculation that drives up prices,” he says. “A growing amount of oil futures is done by players who never take possession of actual barrels of oil. The CFTC needs more detailed reporting by the index funds and swap dealers who take long positions that might drive up the price of oil. “These measures — closing loopholes, increasing regulatory resources and increasing transparency — are steps that will protect consumers from those that would take advantage of an opaque market.” In my June 20 column, I said the sudden and repetitious increases in gasoline and diesel prices cannot possibly be coincidence. There has to be some driving force, big oil companies or our enemies such as al-Qaida, behind it. I also said to expect another big surge in prices in the near future. It’s an all too familiar pattern. Since the June 20 column was published, the price of a barrel of crude oil has soared to a high of $147 per barrel on the commodities futures exchange. It was Osama bin Laden himself who said a couple of years ago that when crude oil reaches $144 a barrel, it will be punishment for Americans. Well, the punishment has begun, and the punishment will continue. Do you think the market speculators give a tinker’s damn what adverse effect these high pump prices have on you and the rest of the American society? They don’t. They won’t, either. Sen. Durbin is right. Something needs to be done. Not only about scheming unscrupulous speculators but also about the sanctimonious prohibition against drilling for oil in our own offshore waters and in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge. Geologists estimate there are millions of gallons of crude oil and billions of gallons of natural gas in those areas. I notice our government jumped right in and took over IndyMac Bank and rescued mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Both ventures cost taxpayers a pretty penny. How did they pull it off? A case of friends in high places, no doubt. Will Congress rescue you in your hard times? Will it give a hoot if you get to the point where it’s a choice of buying groceries for the dinner table or gasoline to get you to work? Not a chance. As for pump prices, you ain’t seen nothing yet. And your Congress won’t lift a finger. Send in the clowns. Published in The Messenger 7.18.08

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