Oil companies have a secret. Or rather, there's a crucial fact that they'd prefer you didn't know. Right now it's taken as gospel that America needs increasing amounts of oil, and that drilling here in the U.S. will help provide it.
We can't know for sure what's behind these oil prices. But what we can know is that we don't know -- and that our government should have the resources to track these markets and intervene when they're being misused.
Green shoots prophesying accelerated declines in American oil consumption are cropping up everywhere. Even before the recession, total domestic oil consumption was in decline and the trend accelerated as the economy lagged.
With oil prices now already above $80 per barrel, you can expect to hear a lot more about the role of speculators. It's always easier to find a whipping boy than to recognize that depletion and more costly fuel in the future are the real problems.