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Petromania: Black gold, paper barrels and oil price bubbles by Daniel O'Sullivan

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4: The Peak Weeks

‘Commentators seeking an explanation for the unprecedented surge in crude oil futures on Friday – up by nearly $11 a barrel – have an embarrassment of riches. The spike (or is it a new plateau?) can be blamed on everything from short-sellers covering themselves, to hawkish comments from an Israeli minister, to a slump in the dollar, or just the catch-all epithet “speculation”. The only kind of speculator who would seriously push up the price of oil today is the kind who holds physical stocks of oil away from the market, hoping to sell later when prices are yet higher. If such speculators exist, either they are Opec governments, or they are doing a splendid job of hiding their inventories, because the data suggest that end-users ...

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