President Obama is right. Evil speculators are pushing up the price of gasoline.
What else can explain it? Demand for gasoline is way down. Inventories are way up. So common sense argues the price should be lower. But it's not. Clearly, it must be the evil speculators.
Those same demons were causing us pain at the pump last year as well. Take a look at this chart of unleaded gasoline...
The springtime price hikes last year and this year are almost identical. It was only after the president pointed an accusatory finger at speculators last year that gas prices started to fall. This year, he gave them the finger a month earlier. So maybe we'll have lower gas prices this Memorial Day.
Of course, the speculators aren't just hanging out at gas stations. Those evil-doers are all around us.
Look at the stock market...
The S&P 500 is 9% higher so far this year – which makes no sense at all. Retail investors have pulled $25 billion out of mutual funds so far in 2012, and stock exchange volume is 20% lower than where it was last year. How can stock prices be going up when demand is falling? It must be the evil speculators.
Precious metals prices are higher, too. Gold is up 6% so far in 2012. And the evil speculators have pushed silver prices 10% higher in the past four months.
But the worst part is those little demons haven't been confined to just the financial markets. They're everywhere.
My health insurance premium is 15% higher today than it was last year – even though I haven't been to the doctor in the past 12 months. My water bill is 12% higher this year, too – even though my usage is down.
The local dog groomer charges $7 more to clip Fido's nails. My wife's hairdresser hiked prices by 10% last month. And just last night, I shelled out $85 for a sushi dinner for two that didn't even include alcohol.
Those evil speculators are pushing up the prices of everything...
... Except interest rates. Apparently, the little devils like cheap money. That explains why global interest rates look like this...
Only the combined efforts of the world's central banks can keep interest rates this low while the price of everything else is rising. So we know who the real evil speculators are... It isn't the traders and investors of the world who are scrambling to buy real assets with rapidly depreciating currencies... It's the central banks who are trying to paper over their debts and print their way to economic prosperity.
As long as interest rates remain artificially low, pricing pressures on everything else will continue to rise. At least we know where the president should really be pointing his finger.