Like a Fourth of July crescendo of fireworks, our gasoline prices are rising higher and higher. While this is tough on consumers, we’re assured by a covey of tongue-clucking industry analysts that nothing can be done about it, for it’s simply the law of supply and demand in action — so suck it up, and pay up.
But hold your BPExxonMobilShellChevron horses right there. Supply and demand? 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 this month to a 10-year low. Let’s see — supply up, demand down. That’s a classic market formula for cheaper prices at the pump. Yet our prices have steadily moved up, rising by two-thirds since the beginning of the year (and by 60 cents a gallon in the past two months alone).
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 now jacking 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 presently bailing out with our trillions of tax dollars.
Please contact your local newspaper editor if you want to read Jim Hightower’s column in your hometown paper.