The Oil Conspiracy
Is the Bush administration manipulating oil prices to win elections?
Closer to home, there was plenty of activity in August and September—beyond Goldman's index maneuvers—that helped push market and retail prices of energy lower. They include: a growing sense that the U.S. economy, the largest user of oil on the planet, has been slowing rapidly and might be headed toward a recession; a shift in the mix of the U.S. car fleet away from trucks and SUVs and toward smaller vehicles; a potential big find in the Gulf of Mexico; a growing boomlet in ethanol and alternative energy; a bust of a hurricane season; and the blowup of a gigantic hedge fund with huge positions in natural gas.
So, the recent fall in energy prices is almost certainly not a Bush conspiracy, just a bit of electoral good luck.
Daniel Gross is the Moneybox columnist for Slate and the business columnist for Newsweek. You can e-mail him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter. His latest book, Dumb Money: How Our Greatest Financial Minds Bankrupted the Nation, has just been published in paperback.
Illustration by Mark Alan Stamaty. Photograph of George W. Bush on Slate's home page by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.