Walter E. Williams

We all are speculators to one degree or another. Last August, my home heating oil company offered its customers a deal. I purchased 900 gallons of oil for a spot price of $2.64 a gallon. I made the purchase with the expectation that oil prices would rise over the winter months. The previous year, I purchased 900 gallons and lost because heating oil fell from the spot price at which it was purchased. Another example is when you expect gasoline prices to be higher next week; you fill up you tank this week.

The futures market, which takes into account both the present and the future availability of goods, is a vital part of a smoothly functioning economy. Unfortunately, that fact provides little comfort to people frustrated over the high prices of food and fuel. As such, it provides fodder for political demagogues, charlatans and quacks who rush in with blame and prepare "solutions" for the problems they themselves have created -- the high prices for food and fuel are directly linked to the policies of the White House and Congress.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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