market manipulation

Supply Down, Oil Up. Supply Up, Oil . . Up [Redux]

Graeme Weardon/Guardian: Oil prices: George Soros warns that speculators could trigger stock market crash
The Financial Times reported today that Soros will tell the US Senate commerce committee that oil was pushed to its recent all-time peak of $135 a barrel by a new wave of speculators.
[Also see: Les Blumenthal/McClatchy]

According to testimony in Cantwell's hearing this morning (check C-SPAN for details), these guys have cost the economy $500 billion. Guess that means guys like Soros have already fleeced the markets, and are coming forward now only because they don't want to take a loss?
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Image © Farid/Dartmouth.edu
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Gas Price Map and 2004 Election Results Comparison: Coincidence?

Becca of DelphiForums noticed an interesting coincidence between the current gas price temperature map and the results of the 2004 Presidential election: can you spot it, too?

Could this simply be a coincidental reflection of relative demand, population density or other economic demographics, or could it reflect potential market manipulation by commodity traders, now under investigation?

What do you think? It's not as thought there's any kind of evidence of Republicans ever gaming the system, right?

CFTC Investigating Oil Trading; Market Manipulation Suspected

On May 29, the CFTC announced an investigation of oil trading, looking for direct evidence that traders deliberately sought to skew the markets.

From Bloomberg:

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"The key to this is: what is the intent of the trading?" said Geoffrey Aronow, a former head of enforcement for the CFTC. "Is the sole intent to try to move the price of the commodity -- in this case, crude oil? Or does the trading have a reasonable commercial justification?"

Record-high oil costs have prompted lawmakers to press for scrutiny of whether speculative trading is artificially pushing up prices artificially.

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It's a very Enronesque scenario.

Paper Oil, Empty Quiver

F William Engdahl/AsiaTimes: Speculators knock OPEC off oil-price perch
A June 2006 US Senate . . . report on "The Role of Market Speculation in rising oil and gas prices" noted, "... there is substantial evidence supporting the conclusion that the large amount of speculation in the current market has significantly increased prices".

Press Release/Levin-Coleman: Report Finds Speculation Adding To Oil Prices (6-27-2006)
The report recommends that Congress enact legislation to close a major loophole in federal oversight of oil and gas traders, slipped into law in 2000 at the behest of Enron and other large energy traders.

My guess is the odds of seeing anything more about closing that loophole are running just about zero. Right next to the odds you'll see anything more written about it anytime soon.

[Image @ Jurist "This Day At Law", 15 October 1914].
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