Drilling for oil in the Arctic Soaring oil prices and falling reserves is sparking a frenzy of oil and gas activity from Alaska to the North Pole. (more)
Where are they now?The Enron-era crackdown on fraud sent a parade of top executives to prison. Find out where they are now. (more)
Best new business hotels Does your business travel routine need an upgrade? Here are the top new spots in dealmaking hubs. (more)
6 of 6
The index speculators
The index speculators
Pension funds and university endowments are investing heavily in big commodity index funds, but are unlikely to be key drivers of oil prices.

The theory: The rise of big commodity index funds is pushing up oil prices. Hedge fund manager Michael Masters says the money plowed into commodities by big investment firms such as pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and university endowments has grown 20-fold over the past five years, to $260 billion in March. "They are not concerned with the price per unit; they will buy as many futures contracts as they need, at whatever price is necessary, until all of their money has been 'put to work,'" Masters told the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on May 20. "Their insensitivity to price multiplies their impact on commodity markets."

Reality check:Skeptics say the funds are chasing, rather than causing, the rising prices. Others note that the prices of commodities such as rice and cobalt that aren't traded on exchanges - and therefore aren't in the index portfolios - have risen more, in many cases, than those supposedly boosted by the index speculators. The bottom line: Fundamental drivers of higher oil prices, billionaire investor George Soros testified Tuesday before the Senate Commerce Committee, "would persist even if speculation and commodity index buying were eliminated." That said, he'd like to see less of this sort of speculation, saying commodity indexes "are not a productive use of capital" and that many investors in these strategies are likely to suffer big losses after the price surge crests.

More galleries
Last updated June 05 2008: 10:42 AM ET

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.