Report says speculation accounts for 83 cents per gallon of gasoline prices

07/12/11 Olivia Kabat
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

Those high gasoline prices you're paying at the pump may have a lot to do with Wall Street speculation.

According to a new report, because of the risky speculative trading on oil in the commodities futures market, the average consumer in the United States is paying much more for gas than they should be. Sheena Rolle is with Organize Now, one of two groups that researched the report. Rolle says she knows what 83 cents per gallon extra means for working class families.

“For the regular guy, working to middle class families, 83 dollars [a month] is a lot of money. For families with kids that are maybe supplementing extra-curricular activities that can that can help kids and their quest to go to college. Eighty three dollars is whether or not a college student can afford to purchase books for a class. You know 83 dollars is a lot of grocery for a family. So it translates to real things as opposed to just being a little under a hundred dollars.”

The new analysis is called “How Speculation is Affecting Gasoline Prices Today,” Rolle wants the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission to take action to stop oil speculation.

“So they wrote the report because legislation had gotten to the point where the CFTC actually could make a difference in this. They could regulate these markets and have a say but they simply weren’t doing it. We wanted to get involved in order to ask the CFTC to please regulate oil markets so that we are not paying the Wall Street Premium at the pump."

Increases in gas prices negatively affect the entire economy, and the report finds Wall Street’s speculation in the oil markets is making the situation worse. Marvin Silver, Outreach Director with Americans for Financial Reform, says he understands the financial hurt consumers are feeling from high gas prices.

“I feel just like the average American around the country who is trying to provide for their family and here it is, you have to pay an extra on an important necessity to get back a forth to work, to engage in family activities, and go and do other important things with our lives like buy groceries. We are paying extra, we’re paying a premium price on a very important necessity in our lives that are going to people who are really not using these products, their using it as a way to make money, to make profits, it’s an investment tool for them.”

According to the report, a large amount of what people are paying at the gas pumps is going right into the hands of speculators on Wall Street.

“Often times people tend to believe the news stories and reports about oil shortages, conflicts happening in the Middle East, or particular natural disasters that impact the cost of gas. Although that has a negligible impact on the cost of gas, what’s really driving the increase in the price of gas is Wall Street speculation.”

But Rolle from Organize Now says there’s action citizens can take to put a stop to Wall Street speculation.

“The one thing that people can do is continue to send their message out to the CFTC. If you go to the CFTC website there is a number there and an email address there where you can share your personal story and say how this is affecting you and that you would like them to regulate oil markets.” reported gas prices in Tampa have risen 14.8 cents per gallon in the last week to an average of $3.56 per gallon.

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