Using the laws we have

Monday, June 23, 2008

As oil and gasoline prices continue to climb, squeezing consumers, it appears that no one is listening to our concerns. Last week, windfall profits legislation failed to pass in the U.S. Senate.

The bill included many measures, ranging from tax credits for alternative and renewable energy and provisions to regulate the trading of oil futures. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley has taken steps to urge federal regulators to do their job and enforce existing laws regarding oil futures trading.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) oversees the trading of all commodities. Last week Grassley, during a confirmation hearing in the Agriculture Committee on the CFTC's oversight responsibilities, urged the agency to address what seems to be out of control speculation in crude oil markets.

Some economists claim that oil prices ceased to be about supply and demand after the $60 a barrel price was breached. Oil is currently trading near $135 a barrel, driven by what North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan has referred to as an "orgy of speculation."

According to Grassley, the CFTC has finally taken steps to increase their access to data and information that will hopefully allow them the proper oversight and transparency of energy markets. Grassley has also sought more information on the CFTC's actions to reign in speculation by investment banks and traders on foreign exchanges.

Grassley believes the CTFC's laissez-faire attitude on oil and gasoline futures trading has contributed to the rise in speculation. Much can be done by simply enforcing the laws that already exsist.

The legislation that was defeated last week would have required traders to put up more collateral in the energy futures markets and opened the way for federal regulation of traders who are based in the United States but use foreign trading platforms.

It is a sad state of affairs when the regulators that are supposed to be looking out for the best interest of the consumers need to be poked and prodded to do their job.

We applaud Sen. Grassley's efforts and hope that the CTFC will actually do their job.

Someone needs to be looking out for us.