The Banker Had A One Track Mind
Wiki defines Droit du Seigneur as “a term now popularly used to describe an alleged legal right allowing the Lord of an estate to take the virginity of his serf’s maiden daughters. Little or no historical evidence has been unearthed from the Middle Ages to support the idea that such a right ever actually existed. Droit du seigneur is often interpreted today as a synonym for jus primae noctis, although it originally referred to a number of other rights as well, including hunting, taxation, and farming.
In fact, this whole idea may have been a form of revenue generator, in much the same way as speed traps are utilized:
We have quite a few examples showing how the popular belief in a former jus primae noctis influenced social relations between lords and peasants in Switzerland, France and Catalonia in the 15th and 16th centuries. One of these stems from a Swiss village in the vicinity of Zurich. In a customal from about 1400 A.D., the rights of the inhabitants of Maur were itemised by the local “Meier”, a representative of the lord of Maur, which at that time was the convent of Zurich. “Item, who wants to enter the holy state of marriage in the village and court of Maur, whoever he may be, shall hand over the woman to Us for the first night or he may buy her out, as it is custom and tradition and written in the old customals. If he doesn’t do so, he must pay a fine of 30 pennies.” (STAZ [Staatsarchiv des Kantons Zürich]. Urkunden Stadt und Land Nr. 2563; copy of the 15th century, cf. Wettlaufer 1999: 251).
One hundred and fifty years later, the text had been slightly altered: in the 1543 version, written by a successor of the first editor, one reads “… and when the wedding starts, the bridegroom shall allow the sergeant to lie with his bride for the first night, or he shall buy her off with 5 pounds and 4 pennies.” (STAZ C. I 2562, [1543 AD] cf. Wettlaufer 1999: 255).
The amount of money mentioned in both texts was affordable for a peasant, and although customals generally reflect the lords’ claims about their rights over the people under their jurisdiction, these rights must nevertheless have been accepted by the peasants. Such texts were read aloud in front of the assembled village and everybody had to agree with them.
While there might be some question as to whether the Royal “Right to Deflower” existed in the past, (notwithstanding the recent example of Dominique Strauss-Kahn) The Masters of the Universe seem to still have the first right of refusal on all non-sexual commodities. For just one example, oil. Stop Oil Speculation notes that a barrel of oil may trade over 20 times before it hits the gas pump. I have seen other estimates that range between 26 and 43 times. One problem is, that no one is actually sure.
It takes time to dig out even illegal speculation, and arguably it is more difficult to uncover than legal speculation. Within the last few days, May 24, 2011, Federal regulators charged five oil speculators Tuesday with manipulating the price of crude over three years ago and making a $50 million profit from the scheme. (A drop in the barrel.)
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission alleges the speculators bought enormous amounts of actual crude oil for sale in Cushing, Okla, during the early months of 2008.
This created a perceived shortage of oil in Cushing — a major point for oil delivery — and drove the price of oil futures contracts higher.
The speculators then bet the price of oil would fall by selling so-called “short” contracts to other investors. When the speculators sold their actual oil holdings in Cushing en mass, the price of oil did fall, netting the group a hefty profit.
The alleged scheme took place between January and April 2008, a time when oil prices were gradually climbing toward their all-time record of $147 a barrel set in the summer of 2008.
The price of crude during the months of the alleged misdeeds changed very little, generally staying within a $10 range but the traders made their money off the daily fluctuations. Crude traded at $99 a barrel Jan. 2, 2008, and ended March 2008 at $101 a barrel.
Yet, the author of the above Internet Article also feels compelled to assure us later that speculation is NOT responsible for the huge increases in price. Paul Krugman has expressed similar opinions, stating that if speculation was behind the price increase, oil inventories would be increasing. Yet, as was noted in February at Yves Smith’s Naked Capitalism blog:
As naked capitalism poster Audrey recently wrote:
The only people with ability to really hoard oil are oil producers – by not producing as much as they could and leaving oil in the ground. So the speculation scenario would go like this – an oil producing company is producing and selling oil at $5/barrel. For whatever reason futures speculation drives prices up $10. Consumption shrinks, and the company cannot find buyers for all the oil it produces. At this point the company can either sell at $15/barrel, or reduce production. It reduces production, supply meets demand, price stays $10 higher.
This might be a difficult issue to fully analyze, but the commodity speculation mop has been wrung out before:
But it’s important to remember that chasing destructive speculative activity out of a commodity market is not an impossible task. In January 1980, the Federal government and the exchange overseeing silver futures trading, the COMEX, took collaborative action: In a series of draconian but necessary measures, the exchange instituted a “liquidation restriction” for the market, forcing speculators to either take delivery of contracts or find massive credit for their holdings while the Federal Reserve blocked commercial lenders from extending that credit. The impact was immediate: Within three months, prices dropped 77%.
Just for curiosity, how does that 77% price drop compare to the drop in Oil Prices when the market hit bottom???
Here is a link to a chart where you can see for yourself:
Let’s see, $144.95 less $38.12 = $106.83.
$1o6.83 divided by $144.95 = 73.7% Price drop.
I am sure this is a coincidence? But really, do we need 20 to 43 traders in between us at the gas pump and the oil in the ground??? Aren’t we just playing out the same old drama above where, “Such texts were read aloud in front of the assembled village and everybody had to agree with them.”
Why don’t we PEASANTS just stop agreeing???
UPDATE!!! The day after this was published, this Internet Article came out confirming the impact of speculation. Wikileaks says the Saudis informed Washington that oil supply was ample and speculators were driving up the price: