How the Kochs' Shady Oil Speculation May Be Driving Up Gas Prices
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In April, ThinkProgress caused a stir when we uncovered a series of Koch Industries corporate documents revealing the company’s role as an oil speculator. Like many oil companies, Koch uses legitimate hedging products to create price stability. However, the documents reveal that Koch is also participating in the unregulated derivatives markets as a financial player, buying and selling speculative products that are increasingly contributing to the skyrocketing price of oil. Excessive energy speculation today is at its highest levels ever, and even Goldman Sachs now admits that at least $27 of the price of crude oil is a result from reckless speculation rather than market fundamentals of supply and demand. Many experts interviewed by ThinkProgress argue that the figure is far higher, and out of control speculation has doubled the current price of crude oil.
Reached for information about its trading division, Koch Industries — America’s second largest private company — declined our request for comment. Writing on his political blog, an attorney working for Koch’s law firm angrily replied to our initial investigation by claiming that Koch is solely a bonafide hedger, meaning that it only participates in speculative markets to reduce risk for the oil the company refines (he also bizarrely argued that speculation has no relation to the price of oil). The spin obscures reality: much of Koch’s oil trading business is actually akin to a hedge fund, buying and selling financial products based on oil with little interest in the actual delivery of the product. In fact, Koch pioneered the risky speculation industry that dominates the world’s oil markets today, first by inventing oil derivatives back in the ’80s, then by working to kill off regulations. ThinkProgress has delved into the history of Koch’s oil speculation business and the following timeline spells out Koch’s leading role: