|The Early Days of a Better Nation|
Friday, October 06, 2006
Petrol in the UK is down from 96 pence a litre to about 85 pence a litre. Oil prices are down and still falling. Oil futures are at a ten-month low. It's hard to believe this would be so if a new Middle East war was seriously expected. You'd think at least speculators would be pushing the price up. Maybe they are, and price would otherwise be even lower! Speaking of speculation, Joe Kay of the World Socialist Web site wonders whether oil companies and energy investors are deliberately keeping the price down to take the price of gasoline off the minds of American voters. Is this kind of market manipulation even possible? If it was, would it be enough to over-ride the prospect of an oil spike? I don't know, but I doubt it. So, while I think an air attack on Iran is more or less a done deal before Bush leaves office, I'm not so sure it's coming before the elections.
But that line of thinking reminds me of one of those stories that are too good to check.
The story goes that in early summer 1941, Stalin, worried about intelligence warnings of an imminent German attack, told his man in Berlin to keep an eye on the price of mutton. He reckoned that if the Germans were planning an invasion, they'd need lots of wool for winter clothing, so mutton would be dear. (Or was it sheepskin, and mutton cheap? Whatever.) The answer reassured Stalin. The mutton market was steady. Which meant that all the incoming warnings were disinformation ...
Little did Stalin guess that the Wehrmacht expected to be in Moscow that summer, so it hadn't ordered any winter woolies at all.