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Who's to blame for SKY-HIGH Food & Fuel Prices??? -- HINT: It ain't the Saudis or Iran!!!

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“Supply and demand” is irrelevant in this circus. The game is not about supply levels; it’s about betting on what the price will be in the future. It does not matter how much food or oil exists. All that matters is the price. If the price is too high, then ordinary people can’t eat, can’t drive their cars, and can’t heat their homes in winter.

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Let me simplify this matter, so readers can have facts ready to go if this topic comes up in their conversations with friends or family.

I want readers to know exactly why the prices of food and energy are going through the roof.

I shall go into depth, but at the end I’ll summarize the major points you must remember for the exam, so to speak.

________________________________________________

THE COMMODITY FUTURES TRADING COMMISSION (CFTC)

Behold the center of the problem. The CFTC is not doing its job. Indeed, the CFTC is working hard to make the situation worse, in order to help rich people get richer.

The CFTC is supposed to regulate futures exchanges, which look just like stock markets, but instead of trading stocks and bonds, people trade contracts to buy or sell something in the future at a specified price. People bet on the future prices of items such as food or oil.

As with stocks and bonds, the game is based on human perception, which is easily manipulated. Hence the CFTC was established in 1974 to keep the game fair, just as the SEC was established in 1934 to keep stock exchanges fair.

The CFTC oversees futures exchanges such as

• Chicago Board Options Exchange Futures Exchange

• Chicago Board of Trade

• Chicago Mercantile Exchange

• HedgeStreet

• U.S. Futures Exchange

• Kansas City Board of Trade

• Minneapolis Grain Exchange

• New York Mercantile Exchange

• New York Board of Trade

• OneChicago

In addition, the CFTC oversees 360 public brokerage houses (futures commission merchants), plus 38,000 commission-registered futures industry salespeople and associated persons, plus 2,500 commodity trading advisers and commodity pool operators, plus 3,000 members (traders) of the main exchanges listed above.

All these people trade contracts that are connected with oil, food, metals -- you name it. If an item has a fluctuating price, it can be traded.

To keep track of all this, the CFTC (http://www.cftc.gov/ ) maintains large regional offices in Chicago and New York, plus smaller regional offices in Kansas City and San Francisco, plus a sub-office of the Chicago regional office in Minneapolis.

In 1992 the CFTC had 600 staff members. However, since the CFTC no longer performs its function, it now has about 450 staff members that get paid $130 million per year from the government. These do-nothings are always whining for more money, and Bush wants to give them a $30 million raise as a bribe so they'll continue to uphold the current nightmare. Their job is to confuse the public and throw out lame excuses as to why they’re not doing their job.

For example, they say, “There’s no single solution to the current price crunch,” or, “It has to do with the Federal Reserve,” or, “We’re studying the problem,” or “It’s peak oil,” or just simply, “It’s very complex.” These are all lies, as you will see below.

Whenever anyone asks the CFTC to do something about out-of-control prices, the CFTC says, “We are doing something. We’re investigating.” Indeed the CFTC has been “investigating” sky-high oil prices for the last six months, during which time the CFTC has deliberately allowed oil prices to rise by another 42 percent.

The CFTC’s 450 people work in secrecy. Their bosses are five commissioners appointed by the U.S. president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Bush’s appointments are all greedy criminals (naturally). As President, Bush designates one of these five commissioners to be chairperson. Today the chairperson is a clown named Walter Lukken from Indiana, who has been with the CFTC since 2002, and was confirmed as Bush’s chairman yesterday (4 June 08).

Since Bush handpicks the CFTC commissioners, the commissioners naturally claim that speculation, manipulation, and lack of regulation have nothing to do with the price of food and oil.

A NIGHTMARE IS BORN

The CFTC did its job more or less okay for its first fifteen years. In those days, speculators (including pension funds, mutual funds, endowments, and other investors not directly tied to the food industry) were limited in the amount of trading they could do in specific commodities.

But starting in 1991, the CFTC embarked on a course of deregulation. It relaxed its rules, increasing limits for some of these investors, and exempting others altogether. The game was afoot.

The real nightmare took off in 2000 when Bush seized power. That’s when large energy traders (notably Bush’s buddies at Enron) got Congress to pass the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, which allowed oil futures to be traded electronically "over the counter" -- that is, traded in unregulated markets outside the CFTC’s jurisdiction. This trick became known as the “Enron Loophole,” and it allowed oil to be traded in a global free-for-all. A gigantic casino was born. Prices started to climb higher and higher, and became truly insane after the sub-prime mortgage meltdown. (More about that below.)

After the Congress and the CFTC deregulated the trading of oil, the CFTC started deregulating all sorts of other commodities, especially food. On 22 April 08, CME Group Inc. (the world's largest grain exchange) requested CFTC permission to clear trades on over-the-counter grain swap contracts. CME wanted to play in the global casino.

The casino has pushed food prices so high that millions of people around the world now face death by famine. (Remember: famine kills more people than wars, disease, cyclones, volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc etc etc) The more food and oil we produce, the more “gambling chips” are available for use in the casino, and the higher the prices rise. In other words, the more food we have, the more we starve, because of the global casino.

“Supply and demand” is irrelevant in this circus. The game is not about supply levels; it’s about betting on what the price will be in the future. It does not matter how much food or oil exists. All that matters is the price. If the price is too high, then ordinary people can’t eat, can’t drive their cars, and can’t heat their homes in winter. We can explore for more oil, or invest in “alternative fuels,” but this will only provide additional chips for the casino, and will therefore push prices even higher. In the casino, trying to bring down prices by increasing supplies is like trying to put out fire with gasoline.

Indeed, more and more farmland is being converted to grow corn for ethanol, instead of crops for food. It’s all about getting more chips (fuel commodities) to use in the fabulous casino, which sucks in more and more money. The casino is a black hole, draining the life of all mankind.

And remember: speculation is one thing, but manipulation is another. Since a lot of this game is done secretly, the biggest traders manipulate the casino. Little or no information about their activities gets out to the public. The fabulous casino has no windows.

Because this game has nothing to do with supply and demand, any economist who attributes rising prices to things like “rising demand from China and India” is a paid liar. Plenty of food and oil exists. Big traders like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are hoarding oil, betting the prices will go even higher. Goldman Sachs holds far more crude than exists in U.S. Strategic Reserve, and is also hoarding heating oil. That’s why the Saudis told Bush to get stuffed when he recently begged them to increase oil output. The Saudis told him what everyone knows: that production and supply have little to do with today’s prices.

The culprits aren’t the grocers or the gasoline station owners. Their profits have shrunk as prices have risen. Ten years ago, gas station owners made most of their money selling gas. Today they can only stay alive by selling snacks and drinks. High gasoline prices have put retailers near the limits on their lines of credit.

Meanwhile, anyone who uses a lot of fuel (e.g. truckers, airlines, etc.) is now facing bankruptcy. The only people getting rich are the big traders on Wall Street, in London, and in Dubai.

Part 2

LONDON AND DUBAI

Dubai (the UAE) has little oil. Wall Street and London have no oil. People in these places get rich by trading oil.

The CFTC oversees the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) plus the Atlanta-based IntercontinentalExchange, but actual trading in these exchanges is done through London and Dubai, where the CFTC has no jurisdiction. It’s the same as U.S. businesses taking out post-office boxes in the Cayman Islands so they can avoid U.S. taxes and business laws. The British Financial Services Authority is supposed to regulate the London Exchange, but it’s even worse than the CFTC.

The Dubai Exchange is tied directly into the NYMEX, while the London’s International Petroleum Exchange is owned by the IntercontinentalExchange in Atlanta. The owners of these exchanges have become filthy rich. Naturally they insist that speculation has nothing to do with high prices, since they want their casinos to stay open.

In 2007, Congress asked the CFTC to start regulating the markets in London and Dubai, since they are directly tied into the U.S. market.

The CFTC refused, knowing that if it starts doing its job, the casino will be brought down to sane levels.

Meanwhile the CFTC is pursuing plans to let even more hedge fund money pour into food and energy commodities.

BUY A CHAIR AT THE CASINO TABLE WITH LITTLE OR NO MONEY DOWN!

When you want to buy stocks, many brokerage firms require that you put up between 30 percent and 40 percent of the market value of the stock in your “margin account.” Thus, if you want to leverage a hundred dollars of stock, you must put up at least thirty dollars in cash, and you must take the hundred dollar hit if the stock tanks.

By contrast, in the global food and oil casino, you only need to put up six dollars in cash. Suh-weeet! This attracts all kinds of gamers that otherwise couldn’t get into the casino. And the more people crowd in, the more they push up prices.

If we force the CFTC to raise margin requirements for commodities futures to 30-to-40 percent, as occurs in the stock market, there would be a shakeout, since a lot of people could no longer play in the food / oil casino. Speculators would have to borrow more money to play the game, and would have to assume more risk. Since 30-60 percent of today’s food and oil prices are caused by sheer speculation, there would be a price drop of at least 30 percent.

Naturally Bush, the casino owners, the gamers, the regulators, and their paid media lackeys deny all these facts. They say they are being unfairly scapegoated, and that a curtailment of their theft would hurt consumers. (They said the same thing during the real estate bubble.) They say that increasing the margin requirements would have no effect on prices. Worse, it would drive trading away from regulated U.S. commodity exchanges, thereby causing prices to rise. But trading is already non-regulated, and prices are already rising unchecked. Prices keep going up because unregulated speculators keep betting that prices will keep going up.

The scammers are getting rich off their casino, and they will do and say anything to keep getting rich. They’ll pay whatever it takes to keep the laws from being changed, and they offer crazy excuses to justify their theft

Here’s another trick: rather than fix the problem, the CFTC is working on ways to improve risk-management choices for farmers and agricultural businesses, including developing alternative financial tools and a plan for the clearing of agricultural swaps. Translation: the CFTC’s solution for the nightmare (caused by so many people entering the nightmare) is to get more people into the nightmare.

Or here’s another trick, the oldest trick of all. Let’s call it the it-won’t-fix-every-problem-so-forget-it trick. (This is like sitting on the Titanic and saying we should plug the leak. “No,” the scammers say, “that won’t get us to shore, so forget it.”) Casino players say that increasing margin requirements, and re-regulating the markets, will not stop speculation, so it’s useless. Well of course it won’t “stop” speculation. We’ve always had speculation. What the world cannot tolerate is runaway speculation.

Today there is no investment in the production of food. There is only price speculation. What we have is a bubble, as we’ve seen countless times before, from the Netherlands tulip craze in the 1600s, to the stock market crash of 1929, to “pet rocks” in the 1970s, to cabbage patch dolls in the 1980s, dot-coms in the 1990s, real estate in the 2000s, and so on. There is always a scam in which people seek to get-rich-quick at society’s expense.

When the mortgage meltdown began, the culprits (banks, hedge funds, etc) moved into the food and oil casino to recoup their losses. And, just as regulators and rating agencies collaborated in the real estate scam, so does the CFTC “regulator” collaborate in the food and oil scam. Let the entire world perish, so long as WE insiders get rich!

IS CONGRESS IN ON THE SCAM?

Only those members who are tied directly into the Bush regime, and those who are players themselves.

Other Congress members are focusing more and more on the CFTC, having realized that if we don’t re-regulate the casino, we're doomed.

A strong proponent of re-regulation is Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) who unfortunately is a mixed up bimbo that voted for the “Patriot” Act. She calls herself “pro-labor,” yet she voted for NAFTA and CAFTA. She’s an Irish Roman Catholic, yet she champions abortion. (In fact she was one of 34 senators to vote against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.) She calls herself “anti-war,” yet she voted against the Kerry-Feingold Amendment (2006) that would have set a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq.

Despite all this, she has recently made the CFTC her target, and with Sen.Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is now mounting a push in Congress to force the CFTC do its job.

Cantwell has little power in Congress, but the heat on the CFTC is increasing. The day before yesterday, that heat caused the CFTC to drop a proposal that would have increased position limits once again (i.e., would have made it even easier for speculators to gamble). The CFTC also said it would not provide a blanket exemption for all index funds, and would not increase speculation limits on agricultural futures contracts.

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid proposed a bill to prevent traders of U.S. crude oil from routing transactions through offshore markets to evade regulation.

The bill would reduce the CFTC’s secrecy, and would require the CFTC to boost margin requirements for all oil futures trades. (If all this could be accomplished, it would bring food and oil prices back under control.)

Also last month, senators Carl Levin and Dianne Feinstein co-sponsored a bill called the Oil Trading and Transparency Act, which would close the "London Loophole."

In the meantime, the CFTC and its allies are using sly tricks to keep the casino running. Last month, for example, Congress passed the Farm Bill to close the Enron loophole, which has allowed food trading to be unregulated. The scammers agreed to this, but with a twist: the Farm Bill places the burden on the public to prove a trade needs regulation, rather than placing the onus on the trader to prove it does not need regulation.

(Tee hee hee.) Ergo, the casino continues.

IS THERE NO HOPE?

The high price of food and oil is causing such massive problems for the entire world that more and more people are focusing on the nightmare of runaway speculation. More and more news stories mention the CFTC. More and more Congress people are paying attention, since their districts are sprialling into bankruptcy. There’s a chance (albeit a slim one) that enough people will wake up for us to come out of this alive.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW FOR THE TEST

--The food and oil crisis is caused by runaway speculation.

--Runaway speculation was caused by total de-regulation, and by the regulators (CFTC) being in on the scam.

--After the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, the criminals (banksters, hedge fund managers, etc) moved into the commodities markets.

--To restore sanity, we must regulate all commodity exchanges worldwide, and we must increase margin requirements for commodity traders. (That is, we must demand that players put up a lot more money, and take on a lot more risk).

--We need not discuss the weak dollar (which plays a role) or rising demand from China, India, etc. Our immediate priority is to re-regulate the commodities markets NOW, and stop this insane bubble from metastasizing further. We absolutely must get food and oil prices under control.

Otherwise the USA is headed for a depression, and much of the world is headed for famine.

Thanks for reading.

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The nature of commodities speculation became obvious to me when I noted that 'an expected storm in the Gulf' resulted in rising oil prices, yet next week's report that the national supply of gasoline rose for the 7th month in a row also resulted in the rise of the price of oil. That right there threw the whole 'supply & demand' claim right out the F'ing window.

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Bush and his bandits. 8 years of hell and destroying the lives of so many people in this country. Can't we just have the election tomorrow? Doesn't matter, the choices this time suck too. This country is so f-ked.

Last 20 years of bush and clinton and reagan before that. No wonder its all a shthole now.

Edited by regfootball
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I can mostly agree. but the fact that drilling here is tightly regulated limiting supply has that effect on speculation. if drilling was allowed in anwr or even more off the coast, I bet the floor would fall down to near $60 again.

in a heavily regulated market, speculation regulations will be needed. in a relaxed market heavy speculation would be less of a problem.

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The nature of commodities speculation became obvious to me when I noted that 'an expected storm in the Gulf' resulted in rising oil prices, yet next week's report that the national supply of gasoline rose for the 7th month in a row also resulted in the rise of the price of oil. That right there threw the whole 'supply & demand' claim right out the F'ing window.

Supply, Demand, and Speculation: This is the Nü-Economics of Capitalism.

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