U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, have introduced a bill they say would essentially level the playing field in energy futures markets, and curb some of the speculation that has been driving up gas prices.
In case you missed it, it’s not a supply problem that’s causing most of this price spike (in which I spent $72 to fill my Toyota’s tank this morning at Costco). Much of the problem is being caused by the dollar’s slumping value and by commodity speculation.
Feinstein’s and Stevens’ S.3131 would require the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to impose the same position limits on institutional investors to which other investors now are subject. Under current law, CFTC is required to impose speculation limits on the size of energy trader positions, but it regularly exempts institutional investors from these limits when those investors execute their trades through brokers or dealers.
“It is becoming clear that rampant speculation in energy markets by institutional investors may be driving up the price of oil and gas. And yet, CFTC exempts these investors from the position limits that are imposed on all other speculators. This gives institutional investors an unfair advantage in the marketplace – and is contributing to the skyrocketing energy prices,” Feinstein said in her news release. “It’s time to level the playing field, and require position limits for all speculators. There’s no doubt that our energy markets are in crisis – and this is one important step we need to take to get us back on track.”
CFTC last month announced it will review the trading practices for these investors to ensure that this type of trading activity is not adversely impacting the price discovery process; it also said it would determine whether it should adopt new practices. This bill would: