Goldman Sachs’ role in oil speculation and other market manipulation detailed

There’s an interesting story in Rolling Stone magazine by Matt Taibbi about how former investment bank Goldman Sachs has engineered every major market manipulation since the Great Depression.

While Commodify Me! would thoroughly recommend that you read all of Taibbi’s  story, the parts that will interest commodity exchange fanatics the most are  page five, which details  how Goldman’s speculation in the oil markets drove the price at the pump to record highs last year,  and page seven, which examines how the bank could potentially make a killing of another product that looks set to be traded on the U.S. futures exchange, carbon credits.

CLICK HERE to read the full story.

Geithner wants OTC derivatives traded on exchanges

A story from the Oil & Gas Financial Journal about U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner talking about greater reglation for over-the-counter derivatives (OTC).

OTC derivatives are a type of contract used on the commodity exhange. They are privately negotiated and traded directly between two parties, without going through an exchange or other intermediary. CLICK HERE to read more about OTC derivatives.

Geithner says the Obama administration would like all standardised derivative contracts cleared through well-regulated central counterparties and executed either on regulated exchanges or regulated electronic trading systems.

Geithner says the reforms should not limit businesses’ efforts to manage financial risk (hedge):

“We want to preserve their capacity to participate in bilateral transactions as hedges as we increase overall protection for investors,” Geithner told a joint hearing of the U.S. House Agriculture and Financial Services Committees. READ HERE.

CFTC hopeful of new regulation by late October

A follow up story by Reuters about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s process and plans for regulating excessive speculation in the commodity market.

For those who have not been following this story, the CFTC’s moves are part of the Obama administration’s plans to tighten U.S. financial regulation and prevent another banking and market crisis.  Critics have  argued the global financial meltdown over the past several months was caused by laxity in the financial markets:

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will move aggressively to rein in excessive speculation in energy and commodity markets by focusing on expanding its existing authority and could have new regulations in place by late October.

Bart Chilton, one of five commissioners at the CFTC, said he could not predict what the agency will do, but he would like to see the proposed rules issued in September, then implemented by late October or November after a period of public comment. READ HERE

As a keen supporter of tighter regulation on the commodity exchnge,  Commodify Me! will be following the develpoments of this story with great interest and will be providing comment once details of the CFTC’s plans are a little clearer.

CFTC considers measures aimed at speculation

An interesting story from the Washington Post about the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman Gary Gensler considering implementing  policies that will reduce the price volatility caused by speculation on the commodity exchange.

The CFTC also has plans to regulate derivatives (financial contracts whose prices are derived from the price of something else. CLICK HERE for more information), limit the size of an investment a single firm can make in a particular commodity and allow greater public disclosure about the holdings of commodities traders:

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission will consider new measures to curb speculation in the markets for energy and other commodities, the agency is set to announce today.

The move aims to reduce the volatility of prices but faces resistance from top Wall Street firms, which fear the efforts could cut into profits. Regulators and lawmakers increasingly worry that these firms have used their size and power to inflate the prices of commodities, booking profits in the process. READ HERE.

Commodity Exchange 101

Welcome to the first instalment of Commodify Me! – the blog covering everything and anything to do with the commodity exchange.

Before I begin analysing the issues facing commodities  in the current recession, I think it would be best to cover the basics – i.e. what is the commodity exchange and how it operates.

In essence, the commodity exhange is a group of regulated and organised global markets where commodities  (CLICK HERE to see a full list of traded commodities) are bought and sold by traders, both locally and internationally.

Commodities are generally traded through futures contracts. These contracts are traded on the futures markets.

A good exmaple of how futures contracts and the futures markets work can be found here

The prices of commodities are influenced by supply and demand. In other words, commodity prices aren’t set, meaning they flactuate daily. This is often refered to as the market price.

So there we have it, a brief insight into the complex workings of the commodity exchange.

Hopefully that wasn’t too painful!