Commodity Corner

Views on commodities and energy

Desperate times. NJ employees steal gasoline from state

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Just as the U.S. Department of Energy was telling the American public to brace for gasoline prices up to $4.15 cents this summer, 13 people were indicted in New Jersey on charges of stealing the increasingly pricey fuel  from the state, according to a press release on the NJ Attorney General’s website.

Twelve of the people charged with gasoline theft were New Jersey government employees, who allegedly filled up their personal vehicles at state-owned gas pumps. The degrees of theft varied wildly, from stealing 12 gallons to more than $1,000 worth gasoline, the press release said.

But with the average price of gasoline now north of $4 per gallon, the alleged gasoline thieves may have company. According to the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, “drive-off” thefts, where customers fill up and then take off without paying are on the rise.

Gold, oil fortunes tied to dollar misfortune

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Here are two outstanding examples of the ripple effects around the world when the dollar stumbles. Oil is at a record high at $110 and gold has topped $1,000 an ounce for the first time, while the dollar has fallen below 100 yen for the first time in more than a decade. Most commodities are priced in dollars, so the weaker the greenback, the cheaper it is for holders of other currencies to buy gold and oil. Gold is also generally seen as a hedge against oil-led inflation. Gold has jumped 19 percent this year on top of a 32 percent rise in 2007.