Back to the past: $4 diesel returns

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Updated Apr 7, 2011

Well it’s official, folks. The Energy Information Administration’s weekly diesel report this week showed the national average with 3 cents of the $4 mark, reaching the highest point yet in the now near nine-month run-up in price we’ve seen since last August, by now oh-so eerily reminiscent of the 2007-08 run (an Overdrive headline in April 2008 read, “No April Fool’s joke: $4 diesel”). This blow-up is ever more remarkable in what it’s been revealing about the glacial pace of change in the area of financial regulations, in spite of accelerated schedules written into the financial reform bill of last year.

I’m talking again about positions limits in commodities markets, which I wrote a bit about last month. Check out the recent piece on the Huffington Post by Daniel Dicker, who notes the efforts of several members of congress to get the issue of Commodities Futures Trading Commission inaction looked at publicly. They’ve requested hearings into the role of speculation, even as the CFTC appears to dither on positions limits regulations — the Dodd-Frank bill required regulatory action on the limits by February, Dicker notes, but in the face of titanic lobbying efforts by the financial sector, CFTC regulators have yet to finalize, and then put into place, the limits. It no doubt doesn’t help that the Obama modus operandi when it comes to the Fed, the Treasury and federal financial regulatory apparatus has been little different from the Bush and Clinton administration, i.e. he’s filled regulatory positions with the same old deregulation-happy financial-industry players we can in somewhat large part blame the 2008 economic implosion for.

But in any case, there’s also plenty of lobbying going on from the other side, too, of course. The coalition of fuel-user groups at S.O.S. (“Stop Oil Speculation”) Now, which includes the American Trucking Associations, the National Association of Truckstop Operators and many other organizations, has been waging a campaign to get a fix on the issue in. Visit their site to find out what they’re doing and for more information about their campaign to influence the CFTC’s regulation-writing process.

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In the meantime, I truly hope you’re getting robust surcharges. And I’m crossing my fingers the high prices don’t result in reinvigorated consumer belt-tightening and freight nose-diving….