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Fake Tweet Claiming Assad Is Dead Affects Oil Markets

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the 140-kinds-of-mischief dept.

Security 104

An anonymous reader writes "Apparently someone set up a fake Twitter account under the name of a Russian Foreign Minister and said President Assad of Syria had been hurt/killed. From the article: 'The ministry and the embassy denied the veracity of the report and a message later appeared on the same Twitter account saying "this account is a hoax." It did not say what the aim of the hoax was although it had briefly affected oil markets.'"

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PROFIT! (4, Funny)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#40899707)

1. Send fake tweet

2. Buy oil stocks after they go down

3. Sell them after they go up again

4. PROFIT!

Re:PROFIT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899741)

You could of told me about it beforehand!

Re:PROFIT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899879)

could HAVE

Re:PROFIT! (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899931)

No they couldn't have, becuase you post as AC. Besides, nobody wants to partner with someone who can't even speak properly.

Are you the type of person who would cut off your nose despite your face?

Do you consider things for all intensive purposes?

Do you think I am making a mute point?

Maybe you could care less?

Re:PROFIT! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899981)

Ha ha you spelled "because" wrong your stupid too!

Re:PROFIT! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900143)

You're

On a serious note, if a person has to correct a person who is correcting another person, don't you think it's time to loose the grammar nazi act around here? I mean everyone makes mistakes when typing, and its ridiculous to judge someone by a single mistake. I know it makes you feel smarter then those around you, but that doesn't make it true.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900217)

lose.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

dougisfunny (1200171) | about 2 years ago | (#40902519)

Loose could feasibly be used in this context in the same sense that you loose the dogs of war, and are letting go of the grammar nazi act.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902617)

Loose could feasibly be used in this context in the same sense that you loose the dogs of war, and are letting go of the grammar nazi act.

It doesn't mean "letting them go" it means to remove containment or restrictions and allow them to run freely. They already ARE loose.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902809)

no, actually "loose" is incorrect in the context it was originally used. loose rhymes with goose and moose, but it has little to do with losing anything.

for those obsessed with capitalization of sentences and whatnot; go fuck yourselves

Re:PROFIT! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900229)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40901385)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Thank you for your helpful correction's.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Sulphur (1548251) | about 2 years ago | (#40901507)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Thank you for your helpful correction's.

We have no wish to invade further postings.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40901763)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Thank you for your helpful correction's.

We have no wish to invade further postings.

So, for all intensive purposes this discussion is complete & at it's end?

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40903875)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Thank you for your helpful correction's.

We have no wish to invade further postings.

So, for all intensive purposes this discussion is complete & at it's end?

It isn't "at it is end", so it should be "at its end".

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40907691)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Thank you for your helpful correction's.

We have no wish to invade further postings.

So, for all intensive purposes this discussion is complete & at it's end?

It isn't "at it is end", so it should be "at its end".

I apologize for the misteak. In retrograde its patently obvious.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about 2 years ago | (#40903563)

Lose, not loose.

-The grammar Fuhrer

Thank you for your helpful correction's.

Needs more apostrophes.

Re:PROFIT! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40901589)

All of you spelling and grammar fuckwads....

Kill yourself.

No. i'm not joking.
Do the world a favor. Improve it beyond being a pedantic shit. Kill yourself. Today.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

neonmonk (467567) | about 2 years ago | (#40902917)

*I'm

Parse error: "Improve it beyond being a pedantic shit."

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900029)

to spite, not despite....

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 2 years ago | (#40900257)

whooosh

(At least you spotted *one* of the (deliberate) mistakes,though, to give credit where it's due.)

Re:PROFIT! (2)

Scarletdown (886459) | about 2 years ago | (#40900289)

No they couldn't have, becuase you post as AC. Besides, nobody wants to partner with someone who can't even speak properly.

Are you the type of person who would cut off your nose despite your face?

Do you consider things for all intensive purposes?

Do you think I am making a mute point?

Maybe you could care less?

Now you are just acting totally retarted. This is just too rediculous to continue. :p

Re:PROFIT! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40900607)

No they couldn't have, becuase you post as AC. Besides, nobody wants to partner with someone who can't even speak properly.

Are you the type of person who would cut off your nose despite your face?

Do you consider things for all intensive purposes?

Do you think I am making a mute point?

Maybe you could care less?

Now you are just acting totally retarted. This is just too rediculous to continue. :p

To be honest, you see this alot online.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 2 years ago | (#40903297)

More then you used too, that's for sure.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Scarletdown (886459) | about 2 years ago | (#40907437)

More then you used too, that's for sure.

Took a few moments to figure out where the Fuck-Up Fairy struck on that one. Then suddenly, viola! There it was.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40911151)

More then you used too, that's for sure.

Took a few moments too figure out ware the Fuck-Up Fairy struck on that won. Than suddenly, viola! Their it was.

FTFY

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899783)

Or short-sell before sending it out.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899929)

or do both through several markets and accounts.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899811)

Yes, but I'd think you could pick a better target for this. Say, someone in Iran. Saying Ahmadinejad or Khamenei was dead could probably swing oil markets either direction, depending on how you claimed they died.

Then again, maybe Syria had more effect because of the lack of any media reporting from the region.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

c0lo (1497653) | about 2 years ago | (#40899905)

1. Send fake tweet

2. Buy oil stocks after they go up [valuewalk.com]

3. Sell them after they go down again

4. BUSTED!

FTFY

Re:PROFIT! (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 2 years ago | (#40899993)

Not BUSTED! but BUST!

Re:PROFIT! (2, Informative)

PPH (736903) | about 2 years ago | (#40900281)

1. Send fake tweet

2. Buy oil futures options in a long straddle [wikipedia.org] .

3. Sell them after the commodity goes up or down. Either way:

4. PROFIT!

Jeez! Do I have to teach you folks everything?

Re:PROFIT! (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40900977)

WRT long straddle or for that matter the very existence of a stock option derivative added to the fact that commodities traders don't take physical delivery, I simply refuse to accept any argument that the markets are distinguishable from casino gambling (other than having an exceptionally toothless gambling commission).

Re:PROFIT! (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#40901511)

I simply refuse to accept any argument that the markets are distinguishable from casino gambling (other than having an exceptionally toothless gambling commission).

Here's the difference:

In the financial world when you gamble with other people's money and lose big:
a) you get a bailout and get to keep your bonuses and previous cut of the winnings.
or
b) your transactions get rolled back (see the HFT rollbacks).

In casinos when you gamble with other people's money and lose big, I don't think the outcomes are as rosy.

It's not mere toothlessness when they rollback HFT trades because of bugs in favoured _players_ systems (it's fine to rollback if it's due to bugs in the "casino" systems).

Re:PROFIT! (1)

smellotron (1039250) | about 2 years ago | (#40902267)

b) your transactions get rolled back (see the HFT rollbacks).

Oh, you mean like the Knight Capital debacle where everyone got a free showing of "HFT market-maker gone wild"? The one where they lost over $400 million on 150 stocks? Trades were busted on only a handful of stocks based on preexisting price rules (IIRC, rules set in place to combat the uncertainty of ad-hoc or politically-motivated busting in response to the May 6 Flash Crash). All other trades stand.

Now, if Knight gets a "Wall St. Bailout", then you have yourself an argument... against bailouts, not trade busts.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902991)

Clearly they weren't a favored party.

Whereas some sure got away with this:
http://money.cnn.com/2010/05/07/markets/explaining_wall_street_turmoil/ [cnn.com]

Whereas the humans who were smarter than the machines got their trades (and thus potential profits) cancelled.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

smellotron (1039250) | about 2 years ago | (#40904297)

As I stated in my post, the existing cross-exchange price rules on trade cancellation were created in response to this event. So it's not a very good example of unfairness, because, well... the rule-makers agreed with you. The unpredictability of bust-or-no-bust made hedging decisions impossible for everyone involved.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40904941)

So why did they cancel those trades in the recent incident? Why not keep all trades?

Re:PROFIT! (1)

smellotron (1039250) | about 2 years ago | (#40914821)

So why did they cancel those trades in the recent incident? Why not keep all trades?

They canceled trades in the recent incident when the price exceeded predetermined bands. Why do they cancel trades at all? Well, to be honest I'm not exactly sure... I suppose there's some intent of "protecting investors" or "maintaining confidence in the markets". But anyone writing an automated trading system could have programmed in the rules to halt when trade prices exceeded the bands, so at least in the recent incident the operational risk could have been managed.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#40903757)

No I meant the cases where lots of trades got rolled back/cancelled.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

smellotron (1039250) | about 2 years ago | (#40904357)

No I meant the cases where lots of trades got rolled back/cancelled.

Name a recent event. Really, I don't follow the news that closely, and as far as I know the trade-bust rules have become much more consistent as of the last few years.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40912729)

They have, but they systematically favor larger players. Smaller players can't even afford the sort of trading that can get rolled back.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

smellotron (1039250) | about 2 years ago | (#40914879)

They have [become much more consistent], but they systematically favor larger players. Smaller players can't even afford the sort of trading that can get rolled back.

If you're referring to capital limits or the fact that small players can go bankrupt before they accidentally push a price through the limit, then I agree with you but I don't really see an alternative. Traders who can weather larger losses will always win.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40913655)

Knight made a HUUUUUUGE mistake. Their new program bought high and sold low, and apparently nobody was watching to make sure it was working right. They got a partial rollback. Had I as a small trader made a mistake proportionally that bad, I would get nothing.

Knight got a 'private bailout' in the form of a $400million investment from other financial companies. That certainly beats the public bailouts, but it still shows the point. Name a '99%er' who could accidentally bankrupt himself and get bailed out by a bank.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902429)

There's a purpose to it. Take a perishable good - bananas, say. Imagine that you live in a port that imports bananas and sells them to the locals. Sometimes there are lots of banana ships coming in, and sometimes there are only a few. This makes the price of bananas go up and down. Consumers don't like this - they prefer to have a steady banana price.

So you start a business. You buy a big refrigerated warehouse. When banana prices are low, you buy them; when prices are high, you sell them. From this profit, you pay the mortgage on your warehouse, and have a little left over for yourself. Your actions benefit the marketplace: because your actions increase demand when bananas are plentiful, and increase supply when they are rare, you smooth over the irregularities in the banana price. People trade with you, and are happy.

But, you only make money when the banana price is varying. When it's stable, you have nothing to do. Maybe that's okay: maybe you're happy to make bank when the price is fluctuating wildly, and make a loss when it's stable. Or maybe you'd prefer to purchase some kind of insurance, so that you make a decent amount (big profits, minus your premiums) during the good times, and can still make your mortgage when times are bad.

That's where a straddle position comes in. You sell an option derivative to investment bank X that says: "If the price of bananas varies wildly, either up or down, I will pay X some money.". If the price swings wildly, you make your usual profit, then you have to pay some of it to bank X when they exercise the option. If the price stays flat, you don't make any money from your usual business, but at least you made some money by selling X the straddle option.

Notice that X doesn't actually take physical delivery of any bananas, but they still provide you with a useful service, as a sort of insurance. In the same way, you don't actually produce any bananas, but you still provide banana-eaters with a useful service. The difference is in the level of abstraction: you're at one level, X is at the next, and someone who buys shares in X is at yet another. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of this, provided that everyone has a full understanding of what's going on.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40903141)

Except that you can't actually STORE bananas for very long if you hope to sell them. The small window dictated by the spoilage rate of bananas dictates that you can't do very much to stabilize the price, all you can do is drive it up a bit and pocket the difference. It's not like you can actually smooth out a bumper crop or a bad year.

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40904711)

But you could smooth out a tropical storm disrupting shipping for a couple days.

And if your only argument is nitpicking the commodity in GP's illustration, you have no argument.
s/bananas/$MORE_STORABLE_COMMODITY/ (oil comes to mind...) And the argument holds...

Re:PROFIT! (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40907217)

So can a reseller who has the since to not implement just (almost sorta) in time warehousing.

Another way to stabilize the pricing is to do away with the whole damned thing and sell the product through a typical supply chain. That is, make the effort to gouge from what everyone knows is just a small hiccup in the shipping more trouble than it's worth.

Put another way, quit de-stabilizing the system by panicking every time someone sneezes and the system will find it's own minima.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Esteanil (710082) | about 2 years ago | (#40900409)

1. Buy oil stocks
2. Send fake tweet
3. Sell oil stocks after they go up
4. Profit

Not like it's that hard to figure out?

Alternative 2:

1. Send fake tweet.
2. Short oil stocks after they go up
3. Buy back and return after they go down again.
4. Profit

Re:PROFIT! (1)

History's Coming To (1059484) | about 2 years ago | (#40899959)

Congratulations on a well used meme in context for once, and in a first post too, makes a nice change! Sadly, this could equally well be the work of a bored student or just about anyone else. I doubt there was that much thought behind it.

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Trepidity (597) | about 2 years ago | (#40900133)

Missing plot twist: the fake Russian Foreign Ministry account was actually operated by the real Russian Foreign Minister, who is also the one who also bought the stocks!

Re:PROFIT! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900171)

Except the said tweet would cause prices to go up, not down. As a matter of fact, breaking news rarely, if ever, bring oil prices down.

Re:PROFIT! (2)

Andrio (2580551) | about 2 years ago | (#40900185)

1. Buy Microsoft stock.

2. Create fake tweet that Steve Ballmer resigned.

3. Sell stock.

4. MEGA-PROFIT!

Re:PROFIT! (4, Funny)

Eyeball97 (816684) | about 2 years ago | (#40900441)

1. Buy Facebook stock

2.

No, wait...

Re:PROFIT! (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | about 2 years ago | (#40900883)

Replace oil futures report with fake report. Short sale all of the oil futures. Wait for real oil futures report to be broadcast.

Get even with the rich old white people that ruined your life.

What were we talking about again?

Re:PROFIT! (1)

Surt (22457) | about 2 years ago | (#40902453)

When I first heard this I assumed oil stocks would go up, you'd short sell and repurchase them after they went back down. So be careful how you manipulate the market, the result may not be what you expect.

Fake tweet?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899709)

So this was a *real* tweet with fraudulent information in it... how does that make it a "fake tweet"?

Re:Fake tweet?? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#40899803)

It's fake the same way as your tweets you're nailing a chick who laughs at your humor.

Re:Fake tweet?? (1)

Archangel Michael (180766) | about 2 years ago | (#40899925)

I would tweet that, except nobody would believe me.

Re:Fake tweet?? (4, Funny)

NonUniqueNickname (1459477) | about 2 years ago | (#40900007)

The tweet is fake because Bashar isn't dead. He's just resting. Remarkable dictators the Assad family. Lovely oil fields.

Re:Fake tweet?? (1, Funny)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40900617)

The tweet is fake because Bashar isn't dead. He's just resting. Remarkable dictators the Assad family. Lovely oil fields.

He's pining for the fjords.

Re:Fake tweet?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902633)

The tweet is fake because Bashar isn't dead. He's just resting. Remarkable dictators the Assad family. Lovely oil fields.

He's pining for the fjords.

Yes, that was the joke. Now, why does this get +4 Funny for parroting the previous post?

Re:Fake tweet?? (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40911091)

Don't worry. I've received a bunch of overrateds and redundants to make up for it.

Re:Fake tweet?? (1)

osu-neko (2604) | about 2 years ago | (#40900125)

So this was a *real* tweet with fraudulent information in it... how does that make it a "fake tweet"?

I think the "fake" part was not the misinformation (which is par for the course) but the fact that the tweet was supposedly a tweet from a Russian foreign minister, but actually was not.

Re:Fake tweet?? (1)

InsectOverlord (1758006) | about 2 years ago | (#40901267)

Next time they ask about my Rolex, I know what to answer! It's not fake, it's a real watch with fraudulent information on it (the brand)!

but it was on the internet! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899717)

And Twitter no less! It must be true! (I know, because I read that on the internet).

Re:but it was on the internet! (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | about 2 years ago | (#40899955)

It is true.

President Assad was killed.

But he got better.

Re:but it was on the internet! (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40900631)

It is true.

President Assad was killed.

But he got better.

No, he got better from when he was turned into a newt.

i got hella farts today (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899735)

tweet that

too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899785)

too bad it wasn't true. If anyone is sub human, it's Assad.

Re:too bad... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899893)

Yes, thank god his replacement will be so much better

See the glory of.... (5, Insightful)

Rob_Bryerton (606093) | about 2 years ago | (#40899805)

See the glory of the Royal Scam.

So real money is gained and lost as imaginary value is created and destroyed based on imaginary things happening to real people.

The stock markets are nothing more than a scam, a fixed game, and this event only serves to underline the fact. Don't play the game.

Re:See the glory of.... (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40899885)

I don't quite get your point. Since value is frequently defined in terms of scarcity, are you saying events that could create even a temporary drop in supply shouldn't have an effect on the value (as a function of the relative scarcity)?

Sure the this tweet was fake and doubtless was quickly corrected, but let's pretend it was true. Most assuredly it would alter the supply of oil, and hence it's value. But you don't that reflected in the price?

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40901123)

Why? They sell on a 12 month contract and as far as I know, the king leaves the actual work to others anyway. Meanwhile, their production is 1/20th of the U.S. domestic production. None of their oil goes to the U.S.

Given all of that, it would be hard to justify prices moving by more than $1/bbl in a rational market. But of course, the market if more pack of panicky animals than it is rational.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#40901179)

1. Legal documents don't magically influence supply.
2. Commodities are globally priced. Are you arguing that the US force domestic producers sell at a lower price than the open market can supply? Will you also insist closely aligned foreign producers take a hit on prices?

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40901287)

1. Nor does a dead king.

2. No, I'm suggesting that if Syria shut down entirely, there would be less than a 1% deficit and they would likely make up the shortfall within a reasonable time.. Given that there is a 6 week pipeline and many producers are not at capacity due to market conditions, it would be hard to justify more than a percent or so price increase. If THE OPEN MARKET pushed it higher than that, it would be based on gouging and irrational panic rather than actual supply and demand.

Added in, since Syria supplies none of the oil to us, we wouldn't incur added costs from having to get increased commitments from suppliers or from hastily re-arranged shipping.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#40901291)

Meanwhile, their production is 1/20th of the U.S. domestic production. None of their oil goes to the U.S.

Fact one: Syria has substantial oil production.

Fact two: the "king" in question is the head of state for an unstable, authoritarian government.

Fact three: a country in full blown civil war, which is what could happen with the death of Assad, won't be producing much oil for sale. A lot of infrastructure would be broken as well, depressing Syria's future oil production.

Fact four: In the event of a civil war, the fun and games could extend to other countries with greater oil production, leading possibly to other drops in oil production. After all, the current Arab Spring tensions originated in Tunisia a country with half the population of Syria.

Given all of that, it would be hard to justify prices moving by more than $1/bbl in a rational market.

What is the elasticity of supply and demand? My take is that there's some problems somewhere, if prices can jump up so easily.

Also, how much did oil prices spike [wsj.com] due to the rumor?

Between 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., futures for light, sweet crude rose from $90.82 to $91.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

So the price of irrationality is $0.17 per barrel for half an hour at most by your thinking.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40901461)

Syria is NOT [indexmundi.com] a major [cia.gov] producer.

And prices spiked by a bit over dollar on an unfounded rumor from a tweet. That sure sounds like a bunch of panicky animals to me. A rational market might consider that any id10t can tweet.

The price was 1.17 since, in fact, nobody died and absolutely nothing changed except someone yelled BOO (in a silly voice). The $1 change would be about right IF the death was real and Syria simply exited the oil market entirely as a result. That $1 is generous considering the elasticity of SUPPLY and that Syria produces well less than 1% of the world's supply.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40902303)

Fact one: Syria has substantial oil production.

Eh... In 2009, they were 31st in the world, behind North Dakota. [wikipedia.org] They were producing about 400k bbl/day, or 0.48% of the world's production. (More on this later.)

Fact two: the "king" in question is the head of state for an unstable, authoritarian government.

There's been, more or less, a civil war in the country for about 17 months. And by their own reports [oilandgaseurasia.com] , production is down to 200k bbl/day or less. The instability of Syria should be already priced in to a rational market.

Fact three: a country in full blown civil war, which is what could happen with the death of Assad, won't be producing much oil for sale. A lot of infrastructure would be broken as well, depressing Syria's future oil production.

Discussed immediately above, but to repeat, production is already depressed to less than one quarter of one percent of the world's production. Due to sanctions, they are (basically) only able to sell to Russia and China. While such sales would affect the price (by alleviating the need for Russia to buy from elsewhere), it is hard to argue that the lack of that supply should affect prices in any meaningful way given how small the volume is relative to the total market.

Fact four: In the event of a civil war, the fun and games could extend to other countries with greater oil production, leading possibly to other drops in oil production. After all, the current Arab Spring tensions originated in Tunisia a country with half the population of Syria.

And the Arab Spring is almost 2 years old, and there has not been any appreciable protests in the top 14 oil producers (only 5 of which are in the region: Saudi Arabia, Iran, UAE, Kuwait and Iraq*). These 14 countries account for about 70% of the worlds production (see wikipedia link above).

*Iraq has had it's own problems, of course, but those are long standing and we can assume they are priced in to the market. There may be an argument to be made that a power vacuum in Syria could cause problems in Iraq, but if we leave Iraq out of the equation there is still a lot of oil.

What is the elasticity of supply and demand? My take is that there's some problems somewhere, if prices can jump up so easily.

That's because you assume that price is only affected by real supply and demand, and not by speculation, fear, assumptions, etc. The fact that there is so much money (pdf) [mit.edu] involved in oil derivatives - it rose from $6.2B in mid-1995 to about $180B in mid-2008 (see page 6 of the pdf), and this is only counting activity on NYMEX - mean that the speculators began to outweigh the bone fide hedgers.

There are two types of traders in the commodities market: hedgers are those who actually produce or consume the commodity (in this case oil); and speculators are those who buy and sell futures contracts, but don't ever deliver or take delivery of the commodity. The speculators are necessary so that there is a fluid market and there is someone available to make a trade. Historically, the speculators have been limited as to the size of a position they can take - that is, how much of the market they can corner - so that they don't gain undue influence on the market. Hedgers (pig farmers if we're talking pork bellies, corn farmers if we're talking corn, oil companies if we're talking oil) never had that restriction. Sometime in the 2000's, I'm not sure exactly when, the did away with that restriction on speculators. Around the same time, Goldman Sachs and others convinced their institutional clients (pension funds, etc.) to invest in commodity indexes and this fueled the explosion of money into the market. All this money sloshing around in the market naturally causes the price to rise (it's not the only factor - surely supply and demand and the growth of China and India played a role). If one year you have $10B buying and selling oil, and the next you have $15B, then prices will rise as surely as inflation.

Also, how much did oil prices spike [wsj.com] due to the rumor?

Between 10:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., futures for light, sweet crude rose from $90.82 to $91.99 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

So the price of irrationality is $0.17 per barrel for half an hour at most by your thinking.

Um... 91.99 - 90.82 is $1.17 or 1.3%. Given the data provided above (less then 0.25% of worlds supply, existing instability, etc.) I'd say that jump is 4 to 6 times higher than I would expect (in a rational market).

Re:See the glory of.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40905267)

Meanwhile, their production is 1/20th of the U.S. domestic production. None of their oil goes to the U.S.

It doesn't matter that their oil doesn't go to the U.S. If the trade is lost to war, their customers will buy other oil instead, competing with U.S. buyers and everyone else. So the price goes up. It goes up and up until enough buyers give up and the amount of oil not purchased due to the price hike equals 1/20 of the U.S. production.

Now, oil is one of those things people really need, so they tend to buy even if the price goes up a lot. How big an increase before you decide to not fill up your car?

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 2 years ago | (#40907329)

It could be an excuse to claim shipping to the U.S. would need to be re-arranged and that that would incur a cost on the U.S. market. I was just pointing out that that's not the case.

The part that really matters for the cost is that they produce well less than 1% of the world's crude and that the other producers have excess capacity due to market conditions (that is, there is supply elasticity) that can easily take up the slack and more even if Syria exited the market forever.

Re:See the glory of.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40902447)

We just saw that a fake tweet had a real effect on the supply of oil. Even if someone knew it was fake, they'd still be correct to hang on to their oil in anticipation of the increased prices.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

Errol backfiring (1280012) | about 2 years ago | (#40903245)

Since value is frequently defined in terms of scarcity

No. Price may be determined by scarcity, not value.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | about 2 years ago | (#40900009)

Scarcity is real. If you don't believe me, think to yourself when you ABSOLUTELY need a pen or a pencil how much you'd be willing to pay for a Bic ball point that comes in a 10 pack for 4 bucks.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about 2 years ago | (#40900641)

Scarcity is real. If you don't believe me, think to yourself when you ABSOLUTELY need a pen or a pencil how much you'd be willing to pay for a Bic ball point that comes in a 10 pack for 4 bucks.

Reminds me of the econ professor I had who would provide you with a blue book on exam day if you forgot yours.

For a mere $2.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#40900043)

So real money is gained and lost as imaginary value is created and destroyed

The value of "real" money itself is only a convenient fiction.

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about 2 years ago | (#40901625)

The value of "real" money itself is only a convenient fiction.

At least it buys you your daily meals, that is not fictive

Re:See the glory of.... (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#40902935)

Like I said. Convenient.

Re:See the glory of.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900123)

If you didn't sell your oil (or buy oil) at that exact moment, you have lost nothing from this.

The only people who lost money were those who were suckered into believing this tweet. Similar to if you got suckered into paying $500 to 'buy' the Brooklyn Bridge. That doesn't mean the Brooklyn Bridge is a scam, it means you are dumb.

If you are in the stock market to buy a piece of a company, then you can do so fairly. If you are in the stock market to trade a lot and get rich quick, then you are a prime target for this kind of scam.

Re:See the glory of.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900843)

In soviet russia, the you play the market...

Hmm... Interesting :)

  - Now heist the red flags!

Oil markets affected.. in what way? (2, Informative)

Bongoots (795869) | about 2 years ago | (#40899807)

The article says nothing about in what way the oil markets were affected, so to spare you having to RTFA I'll copy it below:

MOSCOW, Aug 6 (Reuters) - A Twitter user sent a hoax message on Monday that quoted Russia's ambassador to Damascus as saying Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may have been killed, forcing Russian officials to quickly deny the report.

A user on the social networking site apparently pretending to be Russian Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev quoted the envoy, Sergei Kirpichenko, as saying Assad "has been killed or injured."

The ministry and the embassy denied the veracity of the report and a message later appeared on the same Twitter account saying "this account is a hoax." It did not say what the aim of the hoax was although it had briefly affected oil markets.

Russia is a strong ally of Assad and has repeatedly prevented tougher sanctions being imposed on Syria by the United Nations since the start of an uprising against the president 17 months ago.

Asked about the report that Assad may be dead, Artyom Savelyev, the Russian embassy's press attache in Damascus, said by telephone: "Our ambassador said nothing of the sort."

An Interior Ministry spokesman said Kolokoltsev had no Twitter account.

Re:Oil markets affected.. in what way? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about 2 years ago | (#40899883)

And we still don't know HOW the oil markets were affected (did they go up or down). Your post was pointless.

Re:Oil markets affected.. in what way? (1)

Bongoots (795869) | about 2 years ago | (#40899967)

Bongoots 0 - 1 cpu6502

Isn't this why you love Slashdot? Oh the irony.

Re:Oil markets affected.. in what way? (2)

Bill Dimm (463823) | about 2 years ago | (#40899895)

Yeah, they also didn't say what time the tweet went out. What lazy reporting. Apparently, this is the twitter feed [twitter.com] . The first announcement went out at 9:59am. You can see a price spike a little after 10am [yahoo.com] (sadly, that link will probably be invalid after today), but the price stays up even after it was revealed as a hoax.

Re:Oil markets affected.. in what way? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899923)

Post hoc ergo propter hoc.

Re:Oil markets affected.. in what way? (4, Insightful)

Bill Dimm (463823) | about 2 years ago | (#40899951)

That describes 99% of reporting on the financial markets.

Re:Oil markets affected.. in what way? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#40900347)

That describes 99% of reporting on the financial markets.

I think "that's not even wrong" does a better job.

Expect a high-stakes Poker game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40899837)

in Montenegro now?

You know the economy is hosed when... (1)

dave562 (969951) | about 2 years ago | (#40900177)

...the stock market is run by robots that react to Twitter feeds.

"Just secured 1 gazillion dollar line of credit from JP Morgan" @dave562

Woo hoo... my personal stock is up 10% bitchez!!!!

Regardless of whether... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40900215)

..whoever did this trying to manipulate the stock market, for all we know it could just be some bored person who did it for the lulz, I won't be surprised when the secret corporatocracy police kick down his door, bundle him into a van and next he knows he's going down for 'illegal use of a social network' or some bullshit. There will be a brief outcry on /. and some of the more liberal-leaning news outlets and blogs, before everyone 'forgets' what happened as they quietly accept the new police state making itself at home again.

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