Dem former CFTC member: Speculation doesn't cause spike in fuel costs

Former commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission Michael V. Dunn said Tuesday that during his tenure on the CFTC, he "never saw any empirical data that said speculators were responsible for an increase or a spike in fuel cost," in an interview on CNBC.

CARL QUINTANILLA: Let’s first get some of the process out of the way. Obviously, the president’s going to need some of this to come from Congress. Is the appetite there for Congress to give him what he’s asking for on this front.

MICHAEL DUNN: It's an election year, Carl, so I don't imagine Congress is going to be doing much. There's a lot of speculation if there is a lame duck session that a lot of things would break out at that time. But I think some of the things that he was asking for, certainly as far as providing additional finance and resources to the CFTC, to monitor the market, to find out what's actually happening is extremely important and that shouldn't be a Democrat or Republican issue. It bodes everyone well if they're working off of good data. The increase in—

QUINTANILLA: The number of surveillance personnel, right?  The increase--increasing the penalties?

DUNN: Increasing the penalties, you know, a lot of times you wonder when you're in the enforcement business, does somebody just figure in the cost of doing business what the penalty might be, going from 1 million up to $10 million a day per violation is certainly a deterrent, but a million dollars a day is a deterrent as well. I think the fact that the Department of Justice was standing there which says there may be criminal activities involved that they're looking at, if there are those things, I think everybody wants them out of the marketplace. Those four traders, they don't want to have somebody have an unfair advantage because they're breaking a law. Now, having said that, we have got to be able to prove somebody is breaking the law, and they don't have that type of overview and surveillance.

QUINTANILLA: Do you believe that the kind of behavior he's describing is responsible for a significant rise in the price of gas in this country, say, over the past year?

DUNN: Well, I’m not privy, too, since I’ve been out of the commission since October of 2011, but the whole time I was there, I never saw any empirical data that said speculators were responsible for an increase or a spike in fuel cost.

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