Thanks, banks!: Wall Street drove up gas prices

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Isn't it great that gas prices are finally teetering on normal? Remember the horror movie last summer when parts of the country, especially in the south, saw prices inch toward $5 a gallon?

Turns out Wall Street is to blame for all that pressure at the pump. Last night's 60 Minutes aired a segment looking into how oil could go up to $69 then nearly double to $150 in one year. On September 22, the price of oil jumped $25 in a single day.

The price swings had nothing to do with good ol' fashion supply-and-demand, but the trading of oil on Wall Street. Banks like J.P. Morgan and Merrill Lynch made a killing speculating on the price of oil on the commodities exchange. This $300 billion market came crashing down when the rest of Wall Street exploded. Also, Congress threatening regulations and federal agencies investigating the oil bubble has driven the speculators who drove up prices into hiding. Since then, the price of oil and therefore gas at the pumps has dropped, by a lot.Oil is now at $38 a barrel as demand drops below supply.

It's worth taking a look at this broadcast to see what was behind this past year's insane gas price slide. It's amazing, looking back, and remembering all those articles like this one about how people couldn't get to work, canceled vacations, couldn't get to doctor visits, all because gas was too expensive.

But remember, when watching this, that the problem isn't fixed. There are no federal laws to keep the oil speculation feeding frenzy from happening again. Also keep in mind that speculation was only part of the story, according to several pundits. In any case, oil speculation is something that's going to be up to the incoming administration to remedy. And Obama already said he would look into it, along with everything else he has on his overflowing plate.

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