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In comments Cookie Jill mentioned the possibility of speculators driving up the price of wheat. That reference triggered a curious thought: have you noticed the price of gas lately?

The thing is, the price of oil jumped over that past 6 weeks or so, and then it stalled and started to drop. What is so odd is this – when is the last time you saw the price of oil drop when there were riots in the streets of a major oil producing country, like Iran?

A suspicious person might conclude that there was absolutely no reason for the price of oil to rise other than speculation, and it had risen to an unsustainable level.

Just a thought.


1 cookie jill { 06.25.09 at 12:20 am }

“suspicious” person…or just someone who has been around the block once or twice.

We’re paying about $3.10 -$3.60 or so for gas at our pumps here in Santa BBQ.

2 LadyMin { 06.25.09 at 1:09 pm }

Kind of like those real estate prices… yeah.

3 Bryan { 06.25.09 at 4:29 pm }

First off, the science of global climate change can’t be ignored, especially when you are experiencing an “excessive heat warning” and watching new record highs being recorded every day.

Second the sudden shift to using food crops for ethanol is a brain-dead concept. It doesn’t do much to reduce greenhouse gases and it definitely puts upward pressure on food prices. In some areas they are clearing CO2 absorbing forests to grow more ethanol crops which has a very definitely negative effect on the problem.

I don’t care if they speculate, I just want it reported honestly. Don’t tell me about “free market” and “supply and demand” when gambling is the reason. It is always nice to know the truth about why you are being screwed over.

4 hipparchia { 06.25.09 at 9:25 pm }

it’s easy and convenient to blame ethanol for the rise in food crop prices, but all the commodities — petroleum, grains, beans, even metals to some extent iirc — took off at about the same time.

scads of brand new exchange traded funds in ag commodities started up, iirc about mid-late 2006, and prices skyrocketed, all on about the same curve at about the same time. i didn’t spend a lot of time trying to get to the bottom of things [i used to follow commodities awhile back, so i was interested, but health care was sucking up all my blogging time].

in spite of paul krugman’s saying it wasn’t, i’m convinced the runup in prices for all the commodities, including oil, was entirely due to speculation. and while i didn’t pursue it at the time, i’m still curious what the trigger was, whether it was because the speculators already knew the housing bubble pop was on the way, or because they wanted to get in all the pillaging they could before the end of the republican regime.

5 Bryan { 06.25.09 at 10:02 pm }

Oh, it wasn’t ethanol directly that I blame, it was the all of the subsidies for ethanol that skewed corn prices. Wheat wasn’t involved, and the US hasn’t figured out that if you are going to do ethanol, sugar cane is a better base crop.

Actually the whole thing was silly because there were enough facilities to actually process all of the corn that was being pushed at it.

I always assume agribusiness is screwing with the markets, and I’ve never been disappointed. I object to ethanol purely on functional grounds – if you want to do it, there are better crops to use that don’t require the cropland dedicated to food, nor the production overhead.

The spike in rice prices had nothing to do with ethanol production, and has never been adequately explained.

6 cookie jill { 06.25.09 at 10:45 pm }

I object to ethanol production because of the humungous amounts of water required to do so. We’re running out of water, hate to remind folks. The Ogalalla Aquifer is drying up….quickly.

7 Bryan { 06.25.09 at 11:09 pm }

Agribusiness has really screwed up the production of food. Small farmers would never abuse the land the way that factory farms almost always do. Growing rice in a desert has never made sense to me, but Federal water policy made it profitable.

Subsidies always seem to benefit agribusiness, and small farmers rarely seen anything.

8 hipparchia { 06.26.09 at 12:49 am }

rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, petroleum, some other things, all pretty much followed the same price hike curve, and all pretty much at the same time, with none of them really leading or lagging the others that i could see.

9 Badtux { 06.26.09 at 3:16 pm }

I love how these trolls invent “respectable scientists” out of thin air…

– Badtux the “Boy the trolls are creative nowdays!” Penguin
.-= ´s last blog ..Friday Guest Cat Blogging =-.

10 Bryan { 06.26.09 at 7:58 pm }

Sounds like institutional speculation, Hipparchia, If they lagged slightly behind oil prices, I could see it, as agribusiness is very dependent on petroleum based products, but going up at the same time looks more like raw speculation and gaming the system.

Mr. Duff, the last time scientists had a serious discussion of “global cooling” was a short period in the 1970s, and it faded as soon as the new techniques for tracking global temperature variations came on line.

Climatologists have always talked about “global climate change”, rather than the media’s choice, “global warming”, because the increasing near surface temperatures will disrupt ocean currents. If the currents move, as they probably will, then some coastal areas will actually see lower than expected temperatures, if the sea level rise doesn’t flood them out.

The warming will also affect the wind patterns, which will likely disrupt the currents in the atmosphere as well as the ocean, meaning that the rainfall distribution will be altered. Some of the green areas will become deserts, and some of the deserts may bloom. Improving computer models will make these changes more predictable than they currently are.

I live in a hurricane zone. I spend a lot of time monitoring the weather, including the tropical wave that is currently developing in the Western Caribbean. I have a lot of farmers in my family tree, and you learn to monitor the weather when you’re a farmer.

Badtux, when you don’t know any real scientists, and avoided science in school, it isn’t difficult to be taken in by oil’s PR people. We are used to collecting the data and crunching the numbers ourselves. As you often say “math is too hard” for too many to be able to do that.

11 hipparchia { 06.27.09 at 12:23 am }

i wrote that comment last night and now i read this tonight:

Where to go? With the public reluctant to put money in anything that felt like a paper investment, the Street quietly moved the casino to the physical-commodities market – stuff you could touch: corn, coffee, cocoa, wheat and, above all, energy commodities, especially oil. In conjunction with a decline in the dollar, the credit crunch and the housing crash caused a “flight to commodities.” Oil futures in particular skyrocketed, as the price of a single barrel went from around $60 in the middle of 2007 to a high of $147 in the summer of 2008.

i’m going to have to try to remember where i saw those charts and go back and look at them.
.-= ´s last blog ..My new idol =-.

12 Bryan { 06.27.09 at 12:43 am }

Yeah, I caught that too, and it looks real to me. They are looking for a new bubble to inflate, because that’s how they make huge profits – blow it to excess cash, then short it and pull out.

People have been shot for less in card games.