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Saturday, December 04, 2004

Market manipulation? 
Powerline is noting that the price of oil jacked up sharply in the runup to the election, and then once the election was over, fell back to more normative levels. They raise the excellent question: was this a political manipulation designed to give John Kerry a poll boost?

The timing is certainly damning. And the decline in the price of oil in dollars is even more striking when you note that it happened simultaneously with a sell-off of the dollar.

Now, it's easy to suggest George Soros is behind this, but I think that's too much like the conspiracy theories on the left that portray Karl Rove as the mastermind of all evil in the world.

Besides: I have my doubts that even George Soros has the kind of buying and selling power it would take to manipulate markets like that. Soros nearly broke the Bank of England, but he did it managing other people's money. If Soros were caught conspiring to manipulate markets for political reasons, and with interest other than those of his investors in mind, it would be a massive breach of fiduciary duty, would open him up to a zillion lawsuits, and would ruin his professional reputation.

So he is limited to his own money.

Well, Soros is a wealthy guy. But he's not THAT wealthy.

I think Powerline's second possibility - that the Saudi royal family was nervous about Bush spreading democracy in the middle east to their detriment - is far more plausible. But even the Saudis can't push the price of oil that high on their own: they'd need some cooperation from OPEC at some level.

And so I see Powerline's question and raise them one further: Did Saudi Arabia also recruit the other oil oligarchies to go along?

Wouldn't surprise me.

Welcome to the rough and tumble international arena.

Splash, out

Jason



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