arch 24, 2005 -- HERE'S all you need to know to understand that Americans are getting screwed at the gas pump.
Fact 1: The inventory of crude oil in the U.S. right now is 8 percent larger than it was this same week last year. And that's the biggest amount of crude on hand since the middle of 2002.
Fact 2: That the 8 percent increase doesn't include all the oil purchased by Washington and put into the emergency Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which now has 685 million barrels. That's up from 650 million barrels last year and 599 million in '03.
Fact 3: There is 7.5 percent more gasoline in stock right now in this country than during the same week last year. And you'd have to go back to this same week in 1999 to find more gasoline inventory — when the average price at the pump was only $1.01 a gallon.
Fact 4: Including everything made of oil, there is 4.9 percent more supply this year than when Spring began in 2004. And there's about 10 percent more of all petroleum products in stock today than when the Iraqi war began.
And, finally, Fact 5: American consumers are being conned by speculators — and a media that doesn't ask enough tough questions — into thinking there is some sort of supply problem.
Now here's my No.1 Prediction: If the greedy bottom-feeders who are causing prices to rise end up being responsible for damaging the U.S. economy there will be as much hell to pay on Wall Street as there was when the stock market bubble destroyed people's dreams.
Crude oil prices were down nearly $4 a barrel over the past two days because the goon speculators are starting to lose their grip on the market.