My column last week was about the oil price setting new records and the effect on food prices world wide. Now we can see how over the past week the oil prices have triggered riots in advanced countries such as Spain and the UK with the Trucking industry leading the charge. It seems that the situation will get worse and not better. Also it appears that I had the right culprits - but the wrong name. The correct speculators are the "Wall Street refiners" who have huge forward trading positions and have gambled on keeping the prices high, even though they do not own or ever see their commodity. That is all very well as it is the norm for futures, silver, pork bellies all commodities. However it is dangerous when the traders have built such a huge position which affects hundreds of millions of people world wide. It has been calculated that the real price of oil in terms of supply and demand should be at around $100 a barrel. The difference of the current rates of $140 per barrel is a hefty $70 per barrel. So for a world wide consumption of 80 million barrels, translates to an astronomical $560 million per day as an artificial hike which is paid out to the supply side - be it government or the oil companies. This hike may be a bitter pill for the world wide consumers to swallow, but when the realisation hits the housewives that this high price is due to a handful of traders making exorbitant profits, then the anger will set in. Doubly so when it is made clear that it is not the hitherto profligate Arabs, but the Wall Street refiners, that the anger will take a different turn. And more so when the US Congress has blocked the imposition of a windfall tax on these profits. The American Capitalist system has never grudged profiteering, but on this scale, and at the pain caused to hundreds of millions of domestic consumers, not to mention the other counties. This goes beyond good economic sense, when the peoples of the world are so acutely effected. The Wall Street Refiners will find themselves in the unenviable position of being targeted by all the hate mongers, and rightly so. Exxon made a profit last year of $43 billion, and Shell $25 billion. These numbers will probably double if the prices remain the same, but with Morgan Stanley and others making dire predictions in the supply positions the prices will rise rather than fall. For the population of the world it will be a difficult phase of our lives. It is now to be seen whether the two American presidential candidates choose to take on the Hot Potato", or will they skirt the issue, and let the citizens suffer? This decision may well be the most critical to the outcome of the presidential election. If Obama does pick on this as a major issue, he could walk away with the election. It is a script straight out of Hollywood, and the drama pathos poverty - it is all there. Complete with the "up from the streets" candidate. Maybe... Coming to the problems nearer home, the Long March is nearing its goal, and the media coverage is getting more intense, and of course extensive. On the subject of the media, I find it difficult to understand why an alert mediaman such as Rashid Qureshi, who is so adept at making sure the best possible and most effective spin is given to the presidential views finds it hard to give the president the correct feedback on the real situation viz his (the president's) position. Does he not tell the president what is going on? For allowing the remark: "Let them eat chicken, if they cannot afford Dal " should have been expunged, and denied. He has just earned his place alongside Marie Antoinette for probably the most insensitive remark of all time. One hopes that the follow up to his remark is not that disastrous. It is the job of the media manager to provide the information so that corrective measures can be used. If the information inputs are defective - so will be the decisions from the president. This then has been the failure of his media team.