Jimmy Margulies, The Record
Rising oil prices have pushed gas prices above $4 per gallon in many places, inflating prices on everything from food to airfare, imperiling the fragile economic recovery. Experts have been a bit befuddled by the steep rise in gas prices this early in the year, as global oil supplies have remained steady despite unrest in the Middle East.
Among other factors, experts are increasingly concerned about the prevalence of speculators in the global oil market which may be artificially inflating prices. Speculation on energy futures, including oil, is at an all-time high, jumping 64 percent since 2008. Everyone from Goldman Sachs to Republican lawmakers have acknowledged the role of speculation in artificially driving up prices. Energies futures markets used to be the domain of companies like airlines and shippers, which appropriately use trades to hedge against price volatility, but the markets are increasingly dominated by speculators who are only interested in making profits.