Tag Archives: Sen. Maria Cantwell

Climate Sense: I have a question about this blog, plus Senate debate video

I would like to ask a question about this blog before pivoting to the debate over the Green New Deal.

Item 1: The future of this “Climate Sense” feature

It’s the end of March and the end of the first quarter of 2019. I thought this would be a good time to assess the success or failure of my weekly list of stories related to climate change.

The intent of “Climate Sense,” as I mentioned at the start of the year, is simply to share some of the important research, political developments, fascinating viewpoints or inspiring opinions that I come across during my reading.

So is anybody reading these blog posts? And, more to the point, is anybody getting any value from them?

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What’s all this talk about oil speculation?

I find the subject of futures markets and their regulatory environments highly complex but very interesting. You might not think that oil prices and market trading would be a water-related issue. But I tend to think that if it were not for recent high oil prices, we would not be hearing so many urgent calls for drilling offshore and in the Arctic.

Although the issue is complicated, I was intrigued by portfolio manager Michael Masters’ logical explanation about why oil prices rocketed into the sky earlier this year and then fell back to Earth after July.

It wasn’t just supply and demand, he says, and it wasn’t just a weakness in the dollar. Masters says the price swings had to do with the behavior of institutional investors who poured $60 billion into commodities markets during the runup and then pulled out $39 billion when it appeared prices would not hold.

At the least, this behavior has amplified price volatility, with huge implications for the pocketbooks of Americans and the economy as a whole.

As Masters puts it:

When index speculators pour large amounts of money into the commodities markets and buy large amounts of futures contracts, prices go up. When they pull large amounts of money out and sell large amounts of futures contracts, prices go down. These large financial players have become the primary source of the recent dramatic and damaging volatility seen in oil prices.

To read Masters’ analysis, check out the “Latest News” on the Web site Stop Oil Speculation Now.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell has been pursuing this issue for months, as we have talked about before. Today, Masters and other experts appear before the Energy Subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Cantwell is a member. See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun.

The other side of the story has been represented by staff of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission. See CFTC “Staff Report on Swap Dealers and Index Traders” and the Statement of CFTC Acting Chairman Walter Lukken Regarding Recent Market Developments (PDF 72 kb).

Here’s the lineup for today’s congressional hearing. I’m not sure if the issue will be available as a live webcast, but you can check the committee’s Web site at after 11:30 a.m. (PDT) today.

Here’s today’s speakers lineup: Michael Masters of Masters Capital Management; Robert McCullough of McCullough Research; Jeffrey Harris, chief economist for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Lawrence Eagles of JP Morgan Chase; James Newsome of CME Group; and Fadel Gheit of Oppenheimer & Co.