Oil prices are on the minds of many Americans as gas hits $4 a gallon, and continues to surge. How high can prices go? How can we solve these problems? What, or who, is to blame?
Part of the answer lies in understanding bubbles and monetary inflation, but especially the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Reserve is charged with controlling inflation through interest rate manipulation, however, many fail to realize that creating money, and therefore inflation, is really its only tool. When the Federal Reserve inflates the dollar as drastically as it has in the past few decades, the first users of the newly created money go in search of investments for their dollars. They must invest this money quickly and aggressively before it loses value. This causes certain sectors to expand beyond what would naturally occur in the free market. Eventually the sector overheats and the bubble bursts. Overinvestment in dotcoms eventually led to a collapse of the NASDAQ. Next we had the housing bubble, and now we are seeing the price of oil being bid up in the creation of another new bubble. Investors are now looking to commodities like oil, for stability and growth as they pull capital out of real estate. This increased demand for investment vehicles related to oil contributes to driving up the price of the actual product.