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Fraud*
According to the Collins English Dictionary 10th Edition fraud can be defined as: "deceit, trickery, sharp practice, or breach of confidence, perpetrated for profit or to gain some unfair or dishonest advantage".[1] In the broadest sense, a fraud is an intentional deception made for personal gain or to damage another individual; the related adjective is fraudulent. The specific legal definition varies by legal jurisdiction. Fraud is a crime, and also a civil law violation. Defrauding people or entities of money or valuables is a common purpose of fraud, but there have also been fraudulent "discoveries", e.g. in science, to gain prestige rather than immediate monetary gain
*As defined in Wikipedia

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Friday, May 4, 2012

Goldman Sachs and Oil Speculation

Here is another article about how Goldman Sachs and other speculators make gas prices higher:
Les Leopold:  How Wall Street Drives Up Gas Prices
By Les Leopold - Naked Capitalism

The oil markets have become just another profitable Wall Street casino. Why? Because, as the infamous outlaw Willie Sutton said, “That’s where the money is.” Oil markets as well as other commodity markets require a certain number of speculators. Oil producers and end users go to these markets in order to lock in prices for the products they use or sell. From refiners to shippers to airlines, oil markets provide a way to obtain price certainty for a specified period of time. To make these markets function, speculators are needed to take the other side of those trades. For more than a century about 30 percent of these commodity markets involved speculators and 70 percent of the participants in terms of volume were real producers, distributors and users. That’s what a healthy commodities market looks like.

But once financialization metastasized, the proportions flipped. Now 70 percent of the action comes from speculators, while only 30 percent comes from those who really produce, distribute and use the actual commodities. The casino has taken over.

This speculative invasion is why gasoline prices are climbing rapidly. The only question remaining is how much of the price rise is due to excess speculation. Here’s what the experts say:
  • The St. Louis Federal Reserve (not exactly a Marxist institution) claims that 15 percent of the rise in gasoline prices is due to Wall Street speculation (PDF).
  • A report from the House Committee on Government Oversight claims that up to 30 percent of the rise may be due to speculators.
  • Even experts at Goldman Sachs, of all places, say that “excessive speculation is causing oil prices to spike by up to 40%.”
  • And Saudi Arabia, ”the largest exporter of oil in the world, told the Bush administration back in 2008, during the last major spike in oil prices, that speculation was responsible for about $40 of a barrel of oil.”
This flip in the balance of real economic activity and speculation is precisely what John Maynard Keynes warned us about more than 75 years ago:

"Speculators may do no harm as bubbles on a steady stream of enterprise. But the position is serious when enterprise becomes the bubble on a whirlpool of speculation. When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. The measure of success attained by Wall Street, regarded as an institution of which the proper social purpose is to direct new investment into the most profitable channels in terms of future yield, cannot be claimed as one of the outstanding triumphs of laissez-faire capitalism…."

Who are the speculators?
Senator Bernie Sanders released classified documents revealing the names of the largest speculators in the oil markets as of 2008.

A look at the top 20 speculators reveals that only five are actually involved in producing, shipping, refining and consuming oil (Vitol, CMA, ENA, Semgroup and Emirates Oil). The other 15 are banks and investment houses – a virtual who’s who of Wall Street firms that puffed up the housing bubble and took down the economy. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan Chase, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup — they all make the list.
Read the entire piece here 

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