DALLAS, April 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --Tonight's "Dan Rather Reports" investigates the soaring price at the pump. According to the latest estimates, gas is up a dollar per gallon from last year, meaning that an average family could end up paying hundreds of dollars more to fill-up this summer than last.
Why the big jump? Some analysts believe the blame lies not on supply and demand, nor tensions in the Middle East - there is plenty of oil still flowing - they believe you can blame it, in part, on one of the hottest trends on Wall Street...commodities trading.
Most economists agree that some speculation brings stability to commodity markets. But in an interview with Dan Rather, hedge fund manager Michael Masters claims that a recent surge in speculation has thrown the oil market out of balance making prices at the pump rise and fall at the whim of Wall Street. "Speculators today have about 70 percent of the open interest in the commodity markets," explains Masters. "Ten years ago - they controlled roughly 30 percent of the market."
Congress attempted to reign in speculation with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The landmark financial overhaul has a provision that requires federal regulators to restrict how much money speculators can pour into the oil market. But the financial industry has fought back, spending more than $100 million last year lobbying on Capitol Hill. And many of the new rules have been delayed, including the one that limits speculation.
John Damgard, a lobbyist and the president of the Futures Industry Association, said, "You talk to any of these people that are knowledgeable about the markets, and they will say, 'These markets are working to our benefit. And we simply don't want the government in there trying to determine what we should do and what we shouldn't do.' ...The people that really understand the way these markets work, frankly, are not Congressmen."
In an interview with "Dan Rather Reports," Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank and co-author of the financial reform bill shot back, "They are the ones whose irresponsibility, lack of understanding, arrogance, over-confidence, and in some cases excessive greed, gave us the worst economic crisis in 70 years. How could he say we don't understand it? His problem is that we do!"
Don't miss "Dan Rather Reports: Gas Pains" premiering on HDNet, TONIGHT, Tuesday, April 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET with an encore at 11:00 p.m. ET.
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