On the homepage, the Editors argue that President Obama’s new “task force” on oil “speculators” is a smokescreen, a diversion meant to draw attention from policies that — necessarily — support higher energy prices:
Nor are the putative “speculators” — “investors” is the right word — themselves half the problem they are made out to be. In fact, they play a critical role in the marketplace. Among other things, they help companies with serious financial exposure to fluctuating oil prices (such as airlines and trucking companies) hedge against rising fuel costs. Unlike the U.S. government, FedEx can’t just print money when its expenses go up. The futures market provides businesses — and governments — with critical intelligence about the state of supply and demand for petroleum. An intelligent administration, or one at least less hostile toward profit-making businesses, would be looking for a more robust market, with more market participants, rather than hunting for villains.
What is causing high gasoline prices? Increased demand associated with the global economic recovery and (greater than average) Mideast instability certainly play their part, as does the continued control of a major portion of proven petroleum reserves by OPEC, a paradigmatic cartel whose very raison d’être is market manipulation. But the operant cause here, the main event to which this speculator business is a sideshow, is the man himself: President Obama, and his say-one-thing-and-do-another energy policies. He demagogues on oil speculators because he can’t — he won’t — do anything else.
Read the whole thing here.