How high is it? A 2-1/2 year high.
How high can it go? No one knows.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu expressed what is on many minds – that the oil price jump can hurt the economy. “We have a very delicate recovery going on and an increase in prices will make that vulnerable.”
Even with all options on the table, U.S. officials expressed great caution about imposing no-fly zones over Libya. “I think we are a long way from making that decision,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Some Republicans saw the oil price scare as an opportunity to push again for expanding off-shore oil drilling. “To end this dangerous over-reliance on oil imports, we must find more domestic resources, improve our efficiency and improve international cooperation,” Senator Dick Lugar said.
We had the chance at the Reuters finance summit to ask CFTC Chairman Gary Gensler what a regulator does when a market takes a sharp turn, like oil has in response to Libya.
He asks the surveillance staff to do a briefing. “And I ask questions about whether there’s any concentration, and whether the surveillance staff is seeing any manipulation or trade practice violations, and get into a dialogue about what the exchanges are seeing.”