The New Oil Cheats

The supply of crude oil has risen this year to its highest level in nearly two decades, even while the demand for gasoline has dropped dramatically, having fallen to a ten-year low. Let’s see—supply up, demand down. That’s a classic market formula for cheaper prices at the pump. Yet our prices rose for most of the first half of the year.

What’s going on here is not the “magic of the marketplace,” but some hocus-pocus by brand-name dealers. What might surprise you, though, is that the wheeler-dealers who jacked up our pump prices don’t operate under the BPExxonMobilShellChevron brands—but the logos of Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other Wall Street traders that have been placing vast, unregulated, secretive bets on the future price of oil. They’re playing an electronic casino game in a global “dark market” of exotic derivatives and credit swaps.

If this sounds vaguely familiar to you, it’s because this is the same game that Wall Street played with subprime mortgages, leading to the present crash of our economy. And, yes, these are the exact same banksters that you and I are bailing out with our trillions of tax dollars. . . .

As Woody Guthrie wrote in a song about outlaws: “Some’ll rob you with a six-gun/Some with a fountain pen.”

Jim Hightower produces The Hightower Lowdown political newsletter and is the author, with Susan DeMarco, of the new book “Swim Against the Current: Even a Dead Fish Can Go with the Flow.”

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--Malalai Joya on the upcoming sideshow of an election in Afghanistan

--Ruth Conniff’s interview with William Greider

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