The Visible Hand of the Market
BP under investigation for possible manipulation of oil and gasoline markets
Petro-behemoth BP is being investigated by two U.S. agencies for possible manipulation of crude-oil and unleaded-gasoline markets. (These are, of course, in addition to ongoing investigations of BP over a Texas refinery explosion, an Alaska pipeline spill, and alleged manipulation of the U.S. propane market.) The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has subpoenaed BP in the oil-market probe, which concerns possible evildoing in 2003 and 2004 in the over-the-counter market (trades conducted out of sight of regulators, by phone or electronically, in products not listed on exchanges). The gasoline inquiry, which concerns a single day’s trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange in 2002, has been under way for over a year and includes a criminal probe by the Justice Department. Considering how Americans feel about gas prices, beleaguered BP may have to add appeasing a peeved public to its ever-growing list of things to worry about.