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Should speculators be blamed for high gas prices?

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Mar 1, 2012

Adriene Hill: Paychecks are a little heftier here in the U.S. — average incomes rose 0.3 percent in January.

But those extra dollars aren’t adding up to an extra night out. Why?

Inflation. Especially at the gas pump. Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer tells us why gas prices keep climbing.

Nancy Marshall-Genzer: Demand for gas has been down. It usually falls at this time of year, ahead of the busy summer driving season. So according to the law of supply and demand, if demand is down, prices should be too.

As we all know, that’s not happening. Lots of people are blaming speculators. David Kirsch is not one of them. He’s managing director of Energy Intelligence. He says refiners are worried that tensions over Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program will lead to less oil on the global market, so refiners are stockpiling oil.

David Kirsch: Rather than pure speculation, there’s a little bit of a hedging strategy going on. Some refiners are going ahead and securing up crude oil supplies well in advance. And this is leading up to a little bit of a bidding up in the market.

Bidding up leads to higher prices. But the jury is still out on what’s causing the high gas prices. Some analysts do blame speculators, and they want the federal government to enforce limits on how much oil they can hold.

In Washington, I’m Nancy Marshall Genzer for Marketplace.

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