A while ago I disparaged the Indian government’s backwardness (as I saw it) in considering a ban on futures trading. But now, not a few American pols, journalists and bloggers are sounding like the Indian finance minister, making similarly foolish suggestions in favor of restricting oil speculation.
Everybody always wants to punish speculators. But speculators, by following their self-interest, provide the rest of us with market liquidity, price information and generally lower costs of doing business.
Also, if you believe in freedom, free markets are good in and of themselves. Restricting speculation when prices are unusually high or low is like restricting unpopular speech: there’s generally an expedient argument for it, and it’s generally a bad idea because the long-term harm it does far outweighs any short-term benefits.