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Are Speculators to Blame for High Gasoline Prices?
Townhall.com ^ | February 23, 2013 | Mike Shedlock

Posted on 02/23/2013 8:22:15 AM PST by Kaslin

Given a two-day plunge in crude futures, gasoline prices may have hit a temporary peak.

Nonetheless, consumers feel the pinch as pump prices have risen 34 straight days. For only the fifth time in history Gas prices topped $4 a gallon in District of Columbia.

Nationwide, the price of a gallon of regular gasoline climbed to $3.78 a gallon, up 47 cents in the past month, the AAA said.

In parts of California, Gasoline Prices Topped $5.00 on February 5. CNN Money has an interactive Gas Price map to check prices in your state.

Republicans Cry Foul

Yahoo!News reports Politicians Cry Foul Over High Gas Prices, Urge Action on Keystone XL

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., posted a "Keystone Clock " on his House Energy Committee's website Wednesday. The chairman states more than 1,615 days have passed since TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline proposal sought approval. Joining Upton's call to build the pipeline is Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio. Executives at TransCanada have tried a different tactic to try to get approval from the Obama administration by claiming the pipeline won't affect global warming.

The tug of war between economics and environmentalism is escalating thanks to 34 straight days of rising gasoline prices.

Boehner posted a "Running on Empty " graphic Tuesday. The Speaker of the House complains gas prices have "soared $0.43 since Jan. 17" before remarking with his own Keystone clock, "How long will Americans have to wait?"

Boehner cites several sources, including nine Democratic senators, who want Obama to approve the project quickly. The pipeline may not see a decision until mid-June. Around 20,000 jobs and nearly a million barrels of oil a day are at stake for American oil companies.
Speculators to Blame?

The Salt Lake Tribune reports Spike in gasoline prices points to speculators

"Like locusts ravaging fertile crops, gasoline prices are soaring again and eating away at the purchasing power of ordinary Americans. And again, financial speculators appear to be a big part of the story."

Refinery Closures

In Recovery Killer? Gas Prices Barrel Toward $4 a Gallon CNN notes refinery closures.

Five dollar a gallon gas "is a real possibility" said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital in New York. "This is partly being driven by the lost refinery capacity of about one million barrels per day...that's a lot."

Kilduff cited Hess's (HES) closure of a key refinery hub in Port Reading, New Jersey in January as a major factor that has sent gas on a tear. "Prices haven't looked back since," he said.

"It's one of about eight refineries that have announced closure. Now the East Coast is heavily reliant on [gas] imports when it used to be self-sufficient," Kilduff stated.
Speculation Nonsense

Refinery closures are one part of the puzzle. If speculators have driven up the price of oil (and that is debatable) it's not the speculators who are to blame, but rather the Fed.

By providing massive liquidity and negative real interest rates, the Fed encouraged speculation in the stock market, in junk bonds, and in commodities.

I believe there is a bubble in all of those areas. The Fed's intent was not to foster bubbles per se, but rather to stimulate housing and spur job creation. On the job creation front, the fed failed miserably, and bloated its balance sheet to over $3 trillion dollars in doing so.

Fed policies have destroyed those on fixed income for the benefit of the banks and wealthy, as I wrote on Wednesday in Reader Asks Me to Prove "Inflation Benefits the Wealthy" (At the Expense of Everyone Else).

The Bernanke Fed is so out of line that the House Subcommittee on Economic Growth Demands Answers From Bernanke on Fed's Exit Strategy; Fed Must Reply by March 5

Yet the media blames those evil speculators. Get real.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Editorial
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When I checked the Gasbuddy.com App on my Android phone last night I noticed the prices have gone down for my area. But then there is the old proverb 'What goes up must come down.' Now the question is how long will it last?
1 posted on 02/23/2013 8:22:19 AM PST by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin
Talk about ignoring the Obvious


2 posted on 02/23/2013 8:25:01 AM PST by darkwing104 (Let's get dangerous)
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To: Kaslin

The real problem is inflation and printing money.


3 posted on 02/23/2013 8:29:40 AM PST by bmwcyle (People who do not study history are destine to believe really ignorant statements.)
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To: Kaslin

Senator Gillibrand’s own words, from the 10/22/2009 Wall Street Journal, show that the real purpose of Barack Obama’s climate change legislation is to give Wall Street speculators yet another tulip bulb scheme to replace the mess (mortgage backed securities) for which we are still paying with a $750 billion stimulus package, various bailouts at the taxpayers’ expense, and ten percent unemployment.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704500604574481812686144826.html

In other words, Senator Gillibrand says openly what we have said for quite some time: the real purpose of cap and trade is not to protect the environment, but to line the pockets of fat-cat SPECULATORS who cannot produce goods or services that are of genuine value to society. Oil and gas provide us an actual service of value.


4 posted on 02/23/2013 8:29:40 AM PST by TurboZamboni (Looting the future to bribe the present)
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To: Kaslin

I was reading Popular Science last night and it seems the Feds have approved thousands of acres of public land for private company use to place solar arrays on.

Now, just looking at massive solar arrays, they sure don’t look like they would be benign to me when it comes to affecting the environment. Certainly they would affect it at least as much if not more than the number of wells that would be on the same size plot of land.


5 posted on 02/23/2013 8:30:46 AM PST by VeniVidiVici (Obama's vision - No Job is a Good Job)
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To: Kaslin

I think all factors are in play here. Speculators can drive up prices when the supply margin is tight. And the supply margin is tight due to refinery closures and maintenance.


6 posted on 02/23/2013 8:33:15 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: bmwcyle

Yes, Oil is traded in dollars. As the dollar weakens the price of gas goes up. As the dollar strenghtens the price of gas goes down. That and the fact that we do not have enough refineries to refine the oil into gas are the problems.


7 posted on 02/23/2013 8:34:01 AM PST by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose of a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
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To: Kaslin

I hate thermometers
They are to blame for bad weather, aren’t they?


8 posted on 02/23/2013 8:34:18 AM PST by Kansas58
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To: Kaslin

Everything is speculation. Speculators gonna speculate, as they should.


9 posted on 02/23/2013 8:34:40 AM PST by mnehring
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To: Kansas58

I think the problem is Goldman Sachs.


10 posted on 02/23/2013 8:37:32 AM PST by EQAndyBuzz (Got a problem? Nothing a drone strike can't fix.)
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To: bmwcyle

Not to mention paying roughly $0.55 per gallon to provide fed & states with a slush fund. Crumbling roads and bridges take a backseat to choo-choo trains, lefty environweenie bureaucrats and non-transportation budget items.


11 posted on 02/23/2013 8:42:04 AM PST by relictele
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To: Kaslin

If you grounded Air Force 1 then there would then be enough fuel for everyone.


12 posted on 02/23/2013 8:43:37 AM PST by central_va (I won't be reconstructed and I do not give a damn.)
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To: Kaslin


13 posted on 02/23/2013 8:44:15 AM PST by rawcatslyentist ("Behold, I am against you, O arrogant one," Jeremiah 50:31)
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To: Kaslin

No one will ever find an easy answer to a complex problem. Still, they insist.


14 posted on 02/23/2013 8:44:49 AM PST by Dysart
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To: Kaslin

Price of crude oil goes up, gasoline goes up. Price of crude oil declines, gasoline stays up.

Until they are absolutely DROWNING in gasoline. Until then, export enough so that the domestic supplies remain tight.


15 posted on 02/23/2013 8:46:44 AM PST by alloysteel (What is all too obvious, is not obvious to all. Until it is too late to reverse course.)
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To: Kaslin

When this question was asked the previous two or three times over the past couple of years, I was firmly in the camp blaming the speculators, and I’m quite sure that that was correct then.

But this time I’m with others here that blame Fed counterfeiting driving crude-oil and stock market inflation. As before, supply and demand in no way explain these prices.


16 posted on 02/23/2013 8:47:26 AM PST by jiggyboy (Ten percent of poll respondents are either lying or insane)
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To: Kaslin

Remember that this is exactly what Obama said he wanted (correction: we are now about half-way to the gas prices he wants....)

FYI, Depending where you travel, premium is now $4.39 at cheapo stations (with long lines so you can’t get in) to $4.89 (no lines), and rising.


17 posted on 02/23/2013 8:47:50 AM PST by faithhopecharity (()
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To: alloysteel

The problem , to me, seems to be that it is traded on the market. anything that is on the market has the added pressure of keeping the shareholders happy and not the people buying your product. If it was actually only a supply and demand thing i don’t think we’d see this daily changes.


18 posted on 02/23/2013 8:49:41 AM PST by annelizly
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To: mnehring

Pigs get fat.
Hogs get slaughtered.


19 posted on 02/23/2013 8:49:45 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (NRA Life Member)
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To: mnehring
From the Salt Lake Tribune link above:

Enter financial speculation. Commercial end-users of oil such as airlines and trucking companies who once dominated 70 percent of the market for market for future deliveries of oil now represent just 30 percent. Non-commercial financial speculators now dominate 70 percent of the market. The trading is dominated by Wall Street banks, hedge funds and other financial institutions that have no intention to take delivery of the oil needed to make gasoline.

20 posted on 02/23/2013 8:50:16 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: Kaslin
Supply, demand, equilibrium.
Throw in some government regulations to limit supply.
Throw in some money printing reminiscent of the Wiemar Republic.

Mix it all up, and you have rising gas prices.

21 posted on 02/23/2013 8:50:16 AM PST by meyer (When people fear the government, you have Tyranny)
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To: Kaslin

There are no fewer than 28 “boutique blends” across the states, not including the ethanol blends.

If the refinery capacity we have, was allowed to produce a single national blend, the prices would drop.

This also means we stop the ethanol scam, which is not cost effective to produce.

The attempt to blame speculators is this administration’s refusal to acknowledge the impact of their failed energy policy.


22 posted on 02/23/2013 8:54:04 AM PST by G Larry
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To: Dysart

Wrong!
See post #22.


23 posted on 02/23/2013 8:55:38 AM PST by G Larry
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To: dirtboy

So have those same speculators driven the price of nat gas from 12 bucks to 3.50?


24 posted on 02/23/2013 8:55:38 AM PST by nascarnation (Baraq's economic policy: trickle up poverty)
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To: nascarnation

As I said elsewhere on this thread, speculators can only function in this manner when there is a tight supply margin.


25 posted on 02/23/2013 9:01:46 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: G Larry

You cited one valid (but artificial and foolish) variable cost imposed by the feds that substantially inflates consumer gasoline prices. You ought to know there are many other variable costs which put upward pressure on retail pricing. Again, not quite so simple as we wish it were.


26 posted on 02/23/2013 9:02:28 AM PST by Dysart
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To: Dysart

No, I cited about 87 of the variables.

1- too many fuel blends

2 through 87 - this administration’s failed energy policy.


27 posted on 02/23/2013 9:11:36 AM PST by G Larry
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To: Kaslin

Drill everything...I am sick and tired of politicians standing in the way of energy independence.


28 posted on 02/23/2013 9:11:58 AM PST by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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To: Kaslin

If speculators cause high prices do they also get the credit when prices drop? After all traders can make money no matter which way a market moves as long as they are on the right side of the move. Also, it takes two parties to make a trade. If speculators are on the winning side of a trade aren’t the losers also speculators?


29 posted on 02/23/2013 9:13:02 AM PST by csmusaret (I will give Obama credit for one thing- he is living proof that familiarity breeds contempt.)
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To: Kaslin

i wonder if in dc barry has put little bush faces on the pumps with “It’s His fault!” on them.

seriously. the libtard media is silent bashing the president about this very quick and sharp gas price spike, no poor people filling up complaining thepresident needs to do something, they can’t afford to fill up their cars, bla bla bla...


30 posted on 02/23/2013 9:23:38 AM PST by Secret Agent Man (I can neither confirm or deny that; even if I could, I couldn't - it's classified.)
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To: Kaslin
30 posts and no Bush's fault...
31 posted on 02/23/2013 9:25:46 AM PST by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: mnehring

You could go and speculate on septic tanks, fancy cancer drugs, and even car batteries. There’s no limit to it. The best speculation of all time? When the inside guys of 1928 got the DOW all heated up, and in 1929....walked out to sell and destroyed Wall Street in just a couple of hours. They made millions.


32 posted on 02/23/2013 9:28:31 AM PST by pepsionice
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To: G Larry
Well, again, fully agree. My point is isolating fuel mixes and adm policies is faulty in that it excludes the totality of the problem. I don't minimize them, however.

But other factors are in play rather we readily recognize them or not. For starters consider the global energy market and all their cost structures which contribute to (ours,the topic at hand) retail pricing. Study domestic P&L statements to further your understanding of the costs/inputs as I do.

Start with energy producers investor relations knowledge bases. Your best bet. You are not incorrect in your assertions here, just not encompassing. Gotta go, now. Maybe later.

33 posted on 02/23/2013 9:29:25 AM PST by Dysart
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To: Georgia Girl 2

Yes, Oil is traded in dollars. As the dollar weakens the price of gas goes up. As the dollar strenghtens the price of gas goes down. That and the fact that we do not have enough refineries to refine the oil into gas are the problems.


You are correct, but you cannot ignore the other factors and it is difficult or impossible to assign blame by percentages for high gas prices.

Commodity speculation, geopolitical concerns (world price pressures), government regulation, agricultural ethanol, and government taxation also play a major role in the price of a gallon of gasoline. There are even some states that demand their own environmental blends that further strain limited refineries by complicating the supply process.


34 posted on 02/23/2013 9:30:04 AM PST by volunbeer (We must embrace austerity or austerity will embrace us)
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To: Kaslin

Approving the Keystone XL pipeline would likely drive down oil prices. Speculators look at the US as the largest market for oil and giving the US a non OPEC source of oil and improving the access of the North Dakota oil fields to refineries would lessen the US demand for OPEC oil. I would see that as driving oil prices down. The number of jobs the pipeline would create would also be a significant boost to the US economy. However, Obama will pander to the environmentalist whackos and either continue to study the pipeline or tie if approval to an economically devastating carbon tax.


35 posted on 02/23/2013 9:33:20 AM PST by The Great RJ
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To: Chode

“30 posts and no Bush’s fault...”

It’s Cheney’s fault.


36 posted on 02/23/2013 9:41:43 AM PST by Parley Baer
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To: Kaslin

I was hungry at an autoparts store and I bought a bag of peanuts, it cost $3.75.

Fuel prices are what they are because on a super-weak american dollar. The dollar is super-weal because our goverment is in a huge $16.5 trillion dollar debt. 50% of the debt was made in the last 4 years under a 1/2 kenyan that also is causing crazy inflation.

To blame anything other than our countrys loss of its industrial base and manufacturing output over the last 80-90 quarters for the drop in the American dollars value is crazy. The half kenyan is pissed of too, he knows how much more money he could spend if it was 1992 instead of 2012....All african leaders in africa do this, spend all they can and take trips and go shopping and hang out with famous athletes....It is their nature, look at Edi Amin or Motoboko Konsekie, in the end you get what you pay for and deserve.


37 posted on 02/23/2013 9:41:43 AM PST by 3clean
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To: TurboZamboni

Every time the price of gas goes up the Bolshies cry speculation, but, to my knowledge they have never been able to find any. They need to look at their own policies.

Soros may a billion dollars speculating on the Yen, they should investigate that. But, that would deprive the Bolshecrats of their funding.


38 posted on 02/23/2013 9:48:59 AM PST by depressed in 06 (America conceived in liberty, dies in slavery.)
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To: annelizly

If it was actually only a supply and demand thing i don’t think we’d see this daily changes.

Exactly, energy should be bought and sold by suppliers and users only.


39 posted on 02/23/2013 9:52:23 AM PST by freedomfiter2 (Brutal acts of commission and yawning acts of omission both strengthen the hand of the devil.)
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To: Parley Baer
LOL...
40 posted on 02/23/2013 9:52:49 AM PST by Chode (Stand UP and Be Counted, or line up and be numbered - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: bmwcyle
The real problem is inflation and printing money.

That's certainly contributing to the problem but it isn't the only cause. Here are a few more contributors that I've been reading about (by no means is this a complete list):


41 posted on 02/23/2013 10:06:09 AM PST by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: Kaslin

The main problem (as many others here have noted) is that the intrinsic value of petroleum is substantially greater than the intrinsic value of paper and ink.


42 posted on 02/23/2013 10:09:08 AM PST by Stosh
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To: Stosh

And of course those making federal policy feel in their hearts that anything that gets us out of our personal vehicles is a step in the right direction.


43 posted on 02/23/2013 10:12:34 AM PST by nascarnation (Baraq's economic policy: trickle up poverty)
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To: annelizly
If it was actually only a supply and demand thing i don’t think we’d see this daily changes.

Pricing manipluation doesn't stop at the Stock Market and the Futures Market.

A gas station near my home changes their price up to 5 times a day. Highest price is always in the morning as people are on their way to work. Lowest price is after 9pm in the evening.

Same gas station is within 100 feet of a county line, and is on the side where the gas taxes are half that of the other county. The lowest price is always after 9pm when there's little traffic on the road left and they're trying to get those passing through to stop there and "top off" or fill up.

44 posted on 02/23/2013 10:14:27 AM PST by usconservative (When The Ballot Box No Longer Counts, The Ammunition Box Does. (What's In Your Ammo Box?))
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To: dirtboy

Blaming speculators for the gasoline prices is not only wrong, it is just flat out ridiculous demogoguery. Speculators can hardly be responsible for increasing the cost of a commodity which they have no opportunity to trade in the first place. The great majority of petroleum is NEVER traded in the futures markets. The vast majorty of petroleum is traded by direct contracts between the upstream sovereign nation monopolies s and cartels such as OPEC and non-OPEC nationalized oil companies and the downstream refiners, some of whom are also nationalized entities. Only a small fraction of this petroleum produced and traded is ever traded on the financial markets.

The small fraction of petroleum traded on the financial markets is financed by the speculators, which relieves the oil corporations of the responsibility for spending their own monies to finance the petroleum inventories necessary to hedge adequate supplies to maintain a steady flow of feedstock to maintain the operation of the refineries. without costly additional shutdowns. If the financing of spot market petroleum supplies by speculators were to be ended and oil corporations had to finance their own reserve petroleum supplies, the resultant costs for the oil refiners would cause a major increase in their costs to refine and a major increase in the cost of the refined gasoline considerably higher than what is now being seen. These higher refining costs would be the result of oil refiners needing to compete to purchase the reserve supplies rather than sharing the same pool of supplies, the massive increase in costs for separate storage and transportation facilities, which are now a shared cost in the pooled market, and the increased costs to the refiner for borrowing the capital necessary to purchase and sote the reserve petroleum supplies.

The bottomline is that ignorantly blaming and scapegoating the speculators on the open capital markets for petroleum supplies used in spot market hedging of such supplies is tantamount to eating the goose that lays the golden eggs at no cost to the users of the golden eggs.


45 posted on 02/23/2013 10:51:10 AM PST by WhiskeyX
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To: Kaslin

Obama has threatened energy companies again and again. Those investors in the biz are only reacting to his Communist messages that are causing insecurity in the energy markets. If he would get off his personal Communist goals and stop harassing the energy markets then gas prices would fall significantly.


46 posted on 02/23/2013 11:00:35 AM PST by CodeToad (Liberals are bloodsucking ticks. We need to light the matchstick to burn them off.)
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To: dirtboy

What value does a Wall Street bank or hedge fund add by buying oil futures?

None. They only add volatility, profit on the way up, profit on the way down, so long as the pendulum is swinging wildly they’re happy.

But, the real world is thrown into disarray. Restrict trade to those who not just can but will take delivery and return the process to rational purpose.


47 posted on 02/23/2013 11:11:25 AM PST by RegulatorCountry
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To: WhiskeyX
Puh-leeze. As the paragraph I copied noted:

Commercial end-users of oil such as airlines and trucking companies who once dominated 70 percent of the market for market for future deliveries of oil now represent just 30 percent. Non-commercial financial speculators now dominate 70 percent of the market.

That is a fundamental shift in commodities trading. And when the supply margins are narrow, as they are now, controlling a relatively small amount of petroleum (or in this case, gasoline) can have a significant impact on pricing, as we saw in 2008.

I am not saying speculation is the only factor, far from it. The real blame lies with the nitwits such as Obama and his minions who try to sandbag production increases. But I am saying there should be position limits on those who are neither producers nor end users.

48 posted on 02/23/2013 11:13:09 AM PST by dirtboy
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To: usconservative
OPEC Countries REDUCING output literally barrel for barrel for every barrel produced here in the US.

GOOD!

Will they ever cut it to zero and then freak out and boost production, as they realize they have no income and the US is now getting all the bucks?

49 posted on 02/23/2013 11:24:49 AM PST by ROCKLOBSTER (Hey RATS! Control your murdering freaks.)
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To: G Larry

Ethanol in gas causes a 12% reduction in mileage.

That is a NASCAR number, not mine.


50 posted on 02/23/2013 11:30:14 AM PST by hadaclueonce (you are paying 12% more for fuel because of Ethanol. Smile big Corn Lobby,)
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