Channel 19

Todd Dills

Time to laugh or cry?

| November 21, 2008

Vincent Gramuglia, owner of the Betty Beaver Truck Stop in Fultonville, N.Y., Exit 28 on the New York Thruway, made a brief appearance in the Albany Times-Union Thursday in a story about the dramatic decline in fuel prices. Gramuglia, the Times-Union reports, was one of the organizers of the New York owner-operators’ protest convoy this past June, as diesel soared well over $4 a gallon. Gramuglia “>blamed the current economic slump in part on [previously] high energy prices,” the Times-Union reported. “And he blamed those [previously] high prices on Wall Street speculators.”

In a recent conference call organized by the Oil Price Information Service, experts in energy and commodities trading concurred with Mr. Gramuglia to one degree or another. They noted that, among U.S. President-Elect Barack Obama’s potential early moves on the energy issue, commodity futures market reform to increase transparency and regulation in general is likely to dovetail neatly with his efforts to stimulate the economy and thus be among his first moves on energy. Commodity futures market reform would, it is believed, help guard against price bubbles like the one we saw last year.

All the same, a recent email to Overdrive offices from a writer identifying himself only to say that he wasn’t a trucker and that his name was Mike Mech spelled out what Mech called an “>intentional rumor” of a two-hour hauling halt the day before Thanksgiving. The subject line of Mr. Mech’s email says it all (“Two-hour strike rumoured day before Thanksgiving — half the truckers stop engines — diesel plummets”) but for his goal: “According to my calculations,” he writes, “a tiny nudge can push diesel prices down to where they ought be — in line or less than gasoline.”

That, as they say, is a new one.

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