Are speculators pushing up oil again?

Is the price of oil being artificially boosted again by speculators and investors?

Driven to dizzying heights near $150 in 2008 during the recent bubble, oil has fallen to the $40-50 per barrel range, due to the U.S. and global recession. The New York Times (NYT), in an interpretive report published Thursday, wonders why this is the case, given slack demand.

The Times, questioning why oil is not at $20 per barrel given the universal slump in demand amid the first global recession since World War II, cites analysts who say oil is once again being sought by investors as a refuge against a potentially slumping dollar and rising inflation. Oil rose 50 cents to $49.35 per barrel in mid-day Thursday trading.