Reacting to consumer and business complaints about fast rising fuel and food costs, the federal government is moving toward limiting speculative trading of certain commodities.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission voted 4-1 on Jan. 13 to further consider a proposal that would limit the volume of futures contracts that Wall Street financial investors can trade for 28 commodities including crude oil, wheat and corn.
Certain companies, such as ag firms and airlines, that trade futures as a hedge against price increases would not be affected.
Last year Congress considered tackling the issue of speculative trading as part of the financial overhaul bill that was enacted. Instead they left the details to regulators who are now picking up the mantel. Still, concerns over lobbyists pressing for a watered down version of the proposed regulations prompted eight senators to send the Commission a letter.
“The growing role of hedge funds, financial traders, and long-term passive investors in energy and other commodity markets has had devastating consequences for the average American,” the letter said. “These speculators have contributed to rising volatility and periodic price spikes in the cost of gasoline and food.”