Saturday, July 19, 2008

Samuelson on Speculators

"Tired of high gasoline prices and rising food costs? Well, here's a solution. Let's shoot the 'speculators.' ... Gosh, if it were only that simple. Speculator-bashing is another exercise in scapegoating and grandstanding. Leading politicians either don't understand what's happening or don't want to acknowledge their complicity. ... Oil rose 177 percent, corn 70 percent and copper 360 percent. But that's just the point. Did 'speculators' really cause all these increases? If so, why did some prices go up more than others? And what about steel? ... A better explanation is supply and demand. ... 'We've had a demand shock,' says analyst Joel Crane of Deutsche Bank. 'No one foresaw that China would grow at a 10 percent annual rate for over a decade. Commodity producers just didn't invest enough.' ... Or take nonferrous metals, such as copper and aluminum. 'You had a long period of underinvestment in these industries,' says economist John Mothersole of Global Insight. ... Commodity-price increases vary, because markets vary. Rice isn't zinc. ... For every trader betting on higher prices, another is betting on lower. These trades are matched. ... But all the frantic trading doesn't directly affect the physical supplies of raw materials. ... If politicians wish to point fingers of blame for today's situation, they should start with themselves", Robert Samuelson (RS) at Newsweek, 7 July 2008.

I agree with RS. Politicans are amazing. "Hillary's plan includes: ... Cracking down on speculation by energy traders and market manipulation in oil and gas markets that are driving up the pirce of oil by at least $20 a barrel",, 28 April 2008. Hillary should know. After all, she's "Madame Cattle Futures".

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