Two weeks ago, I suggested in “An Unconventional Fix for Fuel Prices” that changes to oil futures trading regulations specifically for speculators could cause a huge decline in energy prices. On Monday, four energy analysts testifying before Congress strongly agreed with my arguments.
As reported by MarketWatch (emphasis added throughout):
Testifying to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management said that the price of oil would quickly drop closer to its marginal cost of around $65 to $75 a barrel, about half the current $135.
Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co., Edward Krapels of Energy Security Analysis and Roger Diwan of PFC Energy Consultants agreed with Masters’ assessment at a hearing on proposed legislation to limit speculation in futures markets.
Krapels said that it wouldn’t even take 30 days to drive prices lower, as fund managers quickly liquidated their positions in futures markets.
“Record oil prices are inflated by speculation and not justified by market fundamentals,” according to Gheit. “Based on supply and demand fundamentals, crude-oil prices should not be above $60 per barrel.” […]
There are two kinds of speculators in the futures markets, Masters said. Traditional speculators are those who need to hedge because they actually take physical possession of the commodities. Index speculators, on the other hand, are merely allocating a portion of their portfolio to commodity futures.
Index speculation damages price-discovery mechanisms provided by futures markets, Masters added.
And here’s the money quote: “Speculators now account for about 70% of all benchmark crude trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange, up from 37% in 2000, said Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich., chairman of the investigations subcommittee.”
Since then, oil has risen by more than 300 percent. Any questions?