Learsy questions banks over role in oil speculation

Raymond J. Learsy, scholar and author of the Over a Barrel: Breaking Oil’s Grip on Our Future, has written an interesting piece in the Huffington Post that’s worth a read.

In his piece, Learsy looks at how investment banks turned bank holding companies like Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have used the Tarp fund and other taxpayer bailout money from the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and Treasury to speculate heavily in oil markets instead of lending to businesses and financing mortgages, which the money was intended for:

Here we go again. The same Financial Class that brought us to the edge of economic meltdown is now pressing its well connected pals and cronies on Wall Street, in Congress as well as its allies in the press and our OPEC cheering oil industry, to lay hands off the continued stripping America’s wealth through the gamed racket and egregiously profitable world of oil futures trading.

This week the Commodity Futures Exchange Commission (CFTC), responding to a national and international outcry that enough is enough, and in keeping with the Obama administration’s goal of tougher oversight, has finally decided to act. Reacting to Congressional pressures, a struggling industrial landscape and a beleaguered public, the CFTC announced that a series of restrictions on energy trading would be set forth. And here the CFTC and the American public’s outrage is not alone. Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal printed an Op-ed Essay (July 8,2009) jointly written by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Great Britain and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France calling for “transparency and supervision of the oil futures market in order to reduce damaging speculation” (The WSJ, signaling its take on the issue placed the piece at the bottom of its pg.15 Opinion column). READ HERE.

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.