Food speculation

Banks are earning huge profits from betting on food prices in unregulated financial markets. This creates instability and pushes up global food prices, leaving millions going hungry and facing deeper poverty. In January 2014, after four years of our campaign, the EU agreed to introduce new rules to prevent hedge funds and investment banks from driving up food prices.

What is the problem?

A woman tossing black beansBig investment banks are betting on the price of staple foods, like wheat, maize and soya. This is causing food prices to rise and making people go hungry.

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What did we acheive?

A thumbnail of the infographicWDM is campaigning to put pressure on the UK government to back European proposals regulating betting on food prices in financial markets. 

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Food speculation resources

Indian woman throwing grain out of a basketFind out more about food speculation and how it is
affecting the world's poorest people by looking at our resources.  

Read our research

Regulation timeline

A photo of a field of wheatA timeline outlining the legislative process for the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive which contains proposals to regulate food speculation.

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What is food sovereignty?

Leila Ladera in VenezuelaFood sovereignty puts the
people who produce, distribute and consume food at the centre of food systems, instead of markets and corporations.

Find out more

What is the problem?

Speculation in basic foodstuffs is a scandal when there are a billion starving people in the world. We must ensure markets contribute to sustainable growth. I am fighting for a fairer world and I want Europe to take the lead on that."
-Michel Barnier, european commissioner for the internal market

Banks, hedge funds and pension funds are betting on food prices in financial markets, causing drastic price swings in staple foods such as wheat, maize and soy.

A woman tossing black beans

These markets were originally developed for the benefit of those involved in the production of food, yet over the last 10 years they have changed almost beyond recognition. Deregulation has enabled speculators to dominate, causing drastic spikes and crashes in prices. 

Effects of rising food prices

Massive food price increases are catastrophic for people in poverty in the global south, who spend most of their income on food. This results in:

  • Increased hunger as food becomes unaffordable.
  • Malnutrition as smaller quantities of expensive foods such as fruit and vegetables are eaten in order to afford staple foods
  • Increased burden on women to earn more money by taking up risky employment such as sex work or domestic work.
  • Households using up savings, going into debt or selling assets to pay for food.
  • Families unable to afford healthcare and education as more of their income is needed to buy basic food.

In the last six months of 2010 alone, more than 44 million people were driven into extreme poverty as a result of rising food prices. At the same time, banks and financial investors are making a killing. We estimate that Barclays makes up to £340 million a year from betting, or speculating, on food prices. In the last five years, the amount of financial speculation on food has nearly doubled, from $65 billion to $126 billion.

Our report, The great hunger lottery explains food speculation and its impacts on the world’s poorest people while our latest report, Broken markets provides a more technical explanation of how financial speculation drives up food prices. 

How did we end up like this?

‘Futures contracts’ have been used for hundreds of years, helping farmers deal with the uncertainty of growing crops (such as unforeseen weather conditions). A futures contract means a farmer can sell his or her crops at a future date at a guaranteed price. However, these contracts can also be bought and sold by speculators who have no interest in the actual food being traded. Instead, by buying and selling the contracts they could profit from the prices changing over time – betting on the price of food.

These markets for futures contracts worked well until the late 1990s, when aggressive lobbying by bankers led to regulations being rolled back. New and complicated financial products created more ways to make money from betting on food. 

Since 1996, the share of the markets for basic foods like wheat held by speculators – who have no connection to food – has increased from 12 per cent to 61 per cent. 

Find out what we are doing about it.

Who is supporting us?

WDM is not alone in identifying excessive speculation as a key factor in driving up global food prices. Lots of world leaders, civil social organisations, financial and business experts, academics and media commentators all support regulation of these markets.

The movement supporting the campaign

What did we achieve?

If we do nothing, we risk having food riots in the poorest countries and also an unfavourable impact on global growth. We want regulation of the financial markets for commodities.”
- Nicholas Sarkozy, French president

From 2010-2014, we mobilised public pressure calling on the UK government to back proposals to regulate betting on food prices in financial markets.

Protest outside Barclays

Since July 2010, we have campaigned to raise the issue and in January 2014 the EU agreed to introduce regulation to help stop banks and hedge funds driving up food prices and worsening the global hunger crisis. Together with supporters, local groups and our allies in Europe, we have made this into an issue that cannot be ignored. 

Now we’ve seen historic progress.

In line with our demands, new controls will curb financial betting on food contracts and increase the transparency of deals. They are a first step to reclaiming our world from the grip of finance.

 

We’ve been continually outraged by the UK government putting banks’ profits above people’s right to food by opposing tough controls throughout the negotiations. But despite some weaknesses the agreement represents huge progress, meaning that for the first time the EU has rules to tackle food speculation.

Click on this timeline to have a look at what we have done so far.

What we fought for

During the campaign, WDM called for two key measures to be included in Europe’s proposals for financial reform:

  • Transparency – all futures contracts to be cleared through regulated exchanges. Most contracts are currently done in private, which means it is impossible to know how much of what is being traded. Contracts need to be brought out into the open, in the same way that shares are traded on the stock exchange.
  • Strict limits to be set on the amount that bankers can bet on food prices. Caps should be set on the amount of the market that can be held by the biggest players, and on the amount of the market that can be held by financial speculators as a whole.

 

What's happening in the United States?

Following work by the Stop gambling on hunger campaign in the US, regulation of food speculation was included in the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 which was brought in following the financial crisis. This shows what a successful campaign can achieve.

However, Wall Street is now lobbying hard to hinder the implementation of the new regulations and the US campaign has another fight on its hands. Strong regulation in Europe would help our US allies overcome this final hurdle.  

Food speculation resources

“It is deeply alarming that the greatest proportion of activity in the futures markets no longer involves those in the supply chain but is, instead, taken up by speculators. Food commodities are too important to be played about with by day traders and speculators”
- President of National Farmers’ Union Scotland

Since we launched the campaign on food speculation in July 2010, we've produced and collected a range of resources on the issue. Here are some of the best.

Introducing the issue

A woman with a basket

How banks cause hunger - Infographic explaining how food speculation works and what can be done about it.

Frequently asked questions - A factsheet that answers all those questions you've ever wanted to ask to understand this campaign. Topics include financial markets, food prices and financial regulations.

Betting on hunger - An 8 page booklet to help to give you an introduction to food speculation: how it impacts the poor, what speculation is and what can be done about it.

Glossary of terms - A jargon busting guide to steer you through all the technical lingo that is associated with financial markets.

Not a game: speculation vs food security - Oxfam briefing showing the problems about food speculation and what can be done to deal with it.

Transforming our food system: the movement for food sovereignty - An introduction to an alternative approach to the food system that's emerging from the global south and how you can help to put it into practice.

Public statements and submissions

Statement by over 100 organisations calling for excessive speculation on food to be curbed - An international call for action from signatories including the Africa Development Interchange Network (Cameroon), Alianza Mexicana por la Autodeterminación de los Pueblos (Mexico) and the Seed Institute (Kenya)

WDM's response to European consultation on financial reform - WDM's consultation response provides detailed analysis and presents an evidence base for regulating excessive speculation on food derivatives.

WDM's response to the high level planel of experts on food security and nutrition consultation on food price volatility.

 

 

Betting on hunger

Banks are earning huge profits from betting on food prices in unregulated financial markets. This creates instability and pushes up global food prices, making poor families around the world go hungry and forcing millions into deeper poverty. It’s time to stop bankers from gambling on hunger.

Download the briefing

Cover of the betting on hunger report

WDM food speculation campaign: Questions and answers

This document answers all your in depth questions about food speculation.

Downloads

Glossary of financial jargon

Baffled by 'derivatives'? Do you know your 'over the counter' from your 'hedge'? Food speculation is an issue that can get quite technical but here's our jargon busting glossary which will help steer you around the murky waters of financial markets.

Clearing exchange

A clearing exchange acts as the intermediary between the buyer and seller of a derivatives contract. So instead of the buyer and seller interacting directly, the clearning exchange becomes the buyer to each seller, and the seller to each buyer, of a contract. The clearing entity makes the payments to each side of the deal,
covering the buyer and seller from the risk of the other side defaulting. This in turn provides financial stability by insuring both parties against default.

In contrast, derivative contracts which are sold directly between two parties (see over-thecounter derivatives below) can be defaulted on as either side may not deliver either the goods or the money. It was non-payment of derivatives
contracts (not traded through clearing exchanges) which contributed to the 2007/08 financial crisis.

In return for being protected from default, buyers and sellers pay a fee to clearing
exchanges. This protects traders from default by the other party and creates a small cost for each trade which takes place. This cost is small for real users of commodity derivatives like farmers. In fact, most farmers choose to use centralised
clearing rather than over-the-counter trading, because their whole reason for using futures contracts in the first place is to protect themselves from risk. However the fee represents a deterrent for financial speculators to buy and sell contracts exclusively as a moneymaking venture.

Commodity

A commodity is a type of good which is the same no matter who produces it. There is no difference in quality. Because a commodity is the same, it can be easily traded at one global price. For example, a tonne of copper is the same whether it comes from Chile or Zambia.

In contrast, televisions are not commodities as they can be differentiated by features, branding, size etc and therefore different models of televisions command different prices.

For most commodities there are markets where they are traded on the day and derivative markets where contracts are traded for future delivery of the product. In these markets, a single price is quoted for the commodity. The three main  categories of commodities are food, metals and energy (primarily oil and gas).

Commodity index fund A commodity index fund is a way for institutional
investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds to put money into commodities. Commodity index funds put money into a range of commodities in fixed proportions by buying futures contracts and other derivatives
in them. Those using commodity index funds see commodities as a way to diversify where their money is held. They tend to put money in and pull money out due to factors unrelated to supply and demand of individual commodities and look instead to indicators such as stock and property market signals. This can play havoc with
commodity prices as it divorces their value from the actual demand and supply of the commodity itself.

Derivative

A derivative is a financial contract which does not involve the trade of any real product. It is ultimately based on the trade in something real, so its value is ‘derived’ from a real trade. A future is one form of a derivative contract. Derivatives
got more complex through the 1990s and 2000s as financial markets became increasing unregulated.

Futures contract

A futures contract is a contract between two parties to buy or sell an asset of standardised quantity and quality at a specific future date at a price agreed today.
WDM food speculation campaign

Hedge

A hedge is when someone seeks to reduce their risk to price fluctuations. It can be done in many ways. For instance, a farmer can use futures contracts to hedge against large falls in the price of the crop they are selling. They forego the
benefit of any increase, but protect themselves from a fall.

Hedging is also used by financial traders to diversify risk. Putting money into commodities is seen by many financial traders as a hedge.

Commodities can be seen to move in line with inflation, or in opposite directions to shares. Therefore, a trader can protect themselves against inflation, or a fall in share prices, by putting some of their money into commodities.

Hedge fund

Hedge funds are financial funds that put money into a wide variety of markets. They tend to have the fewest regulations applying to them of any financial institutions. They put money into all kinds of markets, including shares, government debt and commodity derivatives. Whilst they are called ‘hedge funds’ they do not hedge.

They tend to do the opposite. They put money into the riskiest activities as an attempt to get the highest returns. Methods they particularly use are borrowing lots of money to then trade with, short-selling and putting money into
derivatives. Hedge funds tend to be used by a small number of wealthy investors.

Over-the-counter derivative

An over-the-counter derivative is a derivative traded privately between two financial traders; at least one of them will usually be a bank. The bank creates the derivative in a specific way for its client. Because it is created in private, the
rest of the market does not clearly see what is being traded at what price. Also, over-thecounter derivatives can easily be defaulted on, unlike those which go through clearing.

Pension fund

Pension funds are institutional investors that take pension savings from individuals and governments. They seek to make a return with which to fund the buying of pensions for those paying into the fund. Pension funds are one of the largest institutional investors in financial markets, because they account for a large
proportion of individuals’ savings.

Position limits

Position limits place a limit on the amount of derivatives which can be traded in a particular market. They were created by US regulators in the 1930s to prevent excessive speculation on food commodities, whilst still enabling farmers
to use derivatives to hedge their risk.

Through the 1990s and 2000s, regulations in the US were weakened, allowing many speculators to be exempt from position limits that apply to them, particularly commodity index funds.

Short-selling

Short-selling is the practice of selling items on a financial market that have been borrowed from a third party with the intention of buying identical items back at a later date to return to the lender.

Traders normally undertake short-selling as a way to profit from falling prices.
For example, a hedge fund makes £10 by selling 10 shares for £1 each. These shares do not belong to the hedge fund but have been borrowed from an actual shareholder. A month later, the shares have dropped to 50p each and the hedge fund buys the 10 shares back for £5 and then returns the shares to their owner. In
this way, the hedge fund pockets the difference and makes a profit of £5.

Large amounts of short selling, for example of shares, leads to a large supply of shares on the market. This in itself can cause the price to fall. Short selling has been a major feature of the recent financial crisis, particularly in currencies,
shares and most recently in government debt in countries such as Greece.

However, it has not yet been as big a feature of commodity markets
where the main speculators (index funds) have been making money from rising prices.

Speculation

Speculation has many different meanings and uses, some of them contradictory. When we refer to speculation, we refer to financial actors putting money into food derivatives to make money, without any intention of buying or selling real food. This speculation on food contrasts with farmers who buy commodity derivatives to protect themselves from the risk of big changes in price. For farmers, buying food
derivatives is effectively insurance.

Food speculation videos

WDM is campaigning to stop food speculation

WDM campaign video with interviews from Kenya.

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speculation explained

Animation produced by our European ally World Economy, Ecology and Development (WEED)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpM9XxJ-vo4&feature=player_embedded

Stop gambling on hunger

Animation produced by the US Stop Gambling on Hunger campaign.

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derivatives could lower price of food

Investigation by the Real News Network looking at the role of commodity derivatives and how they push up the price of food. 

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firms blamed for food price hike

News report by Al Jazeera on how bankers bet on the price of food. Features an interview with our director, Deborah Doane.

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speculation fuels Mexico's tortilla crisis

News report by the Ecologist on how the price of maize is causing massive problems in Mexico.

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speculation = hunger

News report on MSNBC about Wall Street commodity speculation.

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Republic president tackles food speculation

South-South News report on food speculation.

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Talk: Food fight

Investigation on Russia Today. 

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and the frenzy in food markets

News report on the Real News Network. 

See video
 

 

Food speculation in the media

There is strong evidence that speculation exacerbated the last oil and food bubble. Speculation will fuel the next one too, unless meaningful speculative position limits are established.” 
- Sir Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group

Our campaign has been featured in the media. Here is a selection of the coverage:

What Goldman Sachs should admit: it drives up the cost of food
the Guardian, 23 May 2013

A sunnier outlook for Barclays
the Independent, 26 April 2013

Exclusive: Britain running out of wheat as cold weather crisis hits farmers 
the Independent, 6 April 2013

Barclays rakes in up to £750m betting on food prices in just three years
the Daily Mail, 13 February 2013

Goldman bankers get rich betting on food prices as millions starve
the Independent, 20 January 2013

Cost of food 'not going to stop' rising, warns UK chief scientist
the Telegraph, 2 January 2013

Our food speculation campaigner Heidi Chow speaks on radio 4
the World Tonight, 1 January 2013

Banks making millions out of starving millions through food speculation
the Metro, 2 October 2012

Unholy trade of making millions out of misery
the Independent, 23 August 2012 

FSA 'lobbies on behalf of City firms it regulates,' claims campaign group
the Guardian, 19 June 2012 

Barclays makes £500m betting on food crisis
the Independent, 1 September 2012

Public Eye award singles out mining company Vale, Barclays
the Guardian, 27 January 2012

Act on food prices and hunger, economists tell G20
the Mail and Guardian, 11 October 2011

Mexico's poor suffer as food speculation fuels tortilla crisis
the Ecologist, 13 September 2011

It's time to get tough with the food casino
Globe and Mail, 4 August 2011

Giant grain firm buys up all British wheat in 'unprecedented' purchase
Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 30 July 2011 

The case for regulation of commodity markets
Progress Online, 13 July 2011

How hot money is causing a food prices commodity boom
Daily Mail, 29 June 2011

As food speculators make money, the world's poorest suffer
CNN, 22 June 2011

Food prices mean trouble for poor and politicians
Reuters, 17 June 2011

UN report calls for regulation to curb speculators pushing up food prices
the Guardian, 5 June 2011

Should food be a protected commodity?
the Telegraph, 1 May 2011

Protestors to target Barclays' AGM over food price speculation
BBC, 27 April 2011

Barclays food commodity speculation blamed for spike in prices
New Statesman, 27 April, 2011

Barclays faces protest over role in global food crisis
the Guardian, 25 April 2011

Food speculation: 'People die from hunger while banks make a killing on food'
the Guardian, 23 January 2011

In-depth research

WDM research

The great hunger lottery - WDM report showing how speculation on food impacts the poor, and what can be done about it.

Broken markets - WDM report showing that financial speculation has a clear impact on rising food prices and countering arguments to the contrary.

Barclays PLC and agricultural commodity derivatives - Report showing that Barclays Capital makes up to £340 million per year from food speculation.

Back to fundamentals (report) - WDM report explaining why position limits are needed to protect consumers, producers and businesses from the impacts of food speculation.

Back to fundamentals (briefing) - Policy briefing explaining why position limits are needed to protect consumers, producers and businesses from the impacts of food speculation.

Research by external economists and international institutions

The food crises: predictive validation of a quantitative model of food prices including speculators and ethonal conversion - Academic quantitative study finding that biofuels are causing a longer-term rise in food prices, while speculation has been responsible for the recent sharp fluctuations.

The relationship between commodities futures markets and food prices - Paper by economists Jayati Ghosh, Robert Pollin and James Heintz exploring whether greater liquidity contributes to more stable prices, and whether futures markets can affect food prices. 

Agricultural outlook 2011-2020 - Report of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation and OECD, which states that, "Almost all researchers agree that non-commercial participation in futures markets may amplify price movements in the short-term, even if they differ in their conclusions about other possible impacts."

The financialization of commodity markets - Report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) about the high increase in commodity prices accompanied by the growing presence of financial speculators in commodity markets.

Price volatility in food and agriculture markets: policy responses - Report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) looking at volatility in commodity markets and what can be done about it.

Price formation in financialized commodity markets: the role of information - Report by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) on the lack of information in financialised commodity markets.  

Food commodities speculation and food price crises - Briefing note by Olivier de Shutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, outlining the regulation needed to reduce volatility in commodity markets. 

Placing the 2006/2008 commodity price boom into perspective - Research by the World Bank showing that commodity speculation may have been partly responsible for the 2006-2008 increase in food prices. 

Excessive speculation in agricultural commodities - Collection of writings on food speculation from 2008-2011 put together by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. 

The Hunger Makers  - Report from Foodwatch on how Goldman Sachs and other financial institutions are driving up the price of commodities through speculation.

Barclays PLC and agricultural commodity derivatives report

This report, written by Brett Scott on behalf of WDM, is an overview of Barclays' involvement in commodity derivatives markets, with particular reference to its involvement in agricultural commodity derivatives (food speculation). 

Derivatives come in three main types: Futures/forwards, options and swaps. In practice, a lot of the dealing on investment bank trading floors will be in ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) derivatives, which includes forwards, swaps and bespoke options. Futures are slightly different, in that they are traded on regulated exchanges. All these derivative types can be based on different ‘underlying assets’ - e.g. derivatives based on shares, bonds and currencies, economic indicators, and a lot of other things. By far the largest global derivative market is the interest rate derivatives market, followed by currency derivatives, credit derivatives, commodity derivatives, and equity derivatives.

Barclays Capital commodities division is a commodity derivatives business, facilitating derivative markets in energy commodities (e.g. oil, oil distillates, natural gas, coal), industrial metals, precious metals, carbon emissions, and agricultural commodities. There are roughly 350 employees. Barclays describes the business as follows:

Barclays Capital’s Commodities division has expanded rapidly in recent years to meet growing customer demand. Our Commodities Traders build ‘trading books’ specialising in goods from energy products to agricultural assets, all over the world.

Downloads

Broken markets - How financial market regulation can help prevent another global food crisis

Broken Markets seeks to counter the arguments put forward by those sceptical of the influence of financial speculation on rising food prices. It shows how financial speculation has boomed, turning commodity derivatives into just another asset class for investors, distorting and undermining the effective functioning of agricultural markets.

It shows how these changes in the financial markets translate into changes in the price of food, and the devastating impact this has had on the world’s poorest people. It concludes by recommending urgent action to introduce new rules to limit the influence of financial speculators and bring transparency and stability to these out of control markets. 

Download report

The cover or Broken Markets

The Great Hunger Lottery - How banking speculation causes food crises

In The Great Hunger Lottery, the World Development Movement has compiled extensive evidence establishing the role of food commodity derivatives in destabilising and driving up food prices around the world. This in turn, has led to food prices becoming unaffordable for low-income families around the world, particularly in developing countries highly reliant on food imports.

Nowhere was this more clearly seen than during the astonishing surge in staple food prices over the course of 2007-2008, when millions went hungry and food riots swept major cities around the world. The great hunger lottery shows how this alarming episode was fueled by the behaviour of financial speculators, and describes the terrible immediate impacts on vulnerable families around the world, as well as the long term damage to the fight against global poverty.

In the report we describe how the current situation came to pass, the risks of another speculation induced food crisis, and what specifically can be done by policymakers here in the UK as well as in the US and EU to tackle the problem.

Download the report

The great hunger lottery - how banking speculation causes food crises

Take action on food speculation

The European Commission and the French and US governments have all said they want to bring food speculation into the open and regulate it to stabilise prices. We need to you to help pressure the UK government to ensure that it backs proposals for regulation and not to take sides with the banks to block reform.

Email George Osborne at the Treasury, asking him to support strong and effective regulation to stop banks from betting on hunger. The Treasury is the government department which decides whether the UK will support international regulation to rein in excessive speculation on food prices

 

 

The movement supporting the campaign

The impact of financial speculation on food prices is now widely recognised, and this needs to be subject to control without delay.” 
- Olivier De Schutter, UN special rapporteur on the right to food

WDM is not alone in identifying excessive speculation as a key factor in driving up global food prices. Lots of world leaders, civil social organisations, financial and business experts, academics and media commentators all support regulation of commodity futures markets.

A market in Ghana

Campaign allies

Friends of the Earth Europe

World Ecology, Economy and Development, Germany

SOMO, the Netherlands

New economics foundation, UK

CRBM

Corporate Europe Observatory, Belgium

Oxfam International

Stop Gambling on Hunger, USA

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA

Wider civil society

Over 100 civil society organisations globally supporting the campaign aims.

Economists

Over 450 economists in more than 40 countries calling for regulation of food speculation.

World leaders

European commissioner for the internal market, Michel Barnier, January 2010: 

“Speculation in basic foodstuffs is a scandal when there are a billion starving people in the world. We must ensure markets contribute to sustainable growth. I am fighting for a fairer world and I want Europe to take the lead on that."

United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, September 2010:

“The global food price crisis that occurred between 2007 and 2008, and which affects many developing countries to this day, had a number of causes. The initial causes related to market fundamentals, including the supply and demand for food commodities, transportation and storage costs, and an increase in the price of agricultural inputs. However, a significant portion of the increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble.”

French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, January 2011:

“If we do nothing, we risk having food riots in the poorest countries and also an unfavourable impact on global growth. We want regulation of the financial markets for commodities.” J

Then director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Jacques Diouf, January 2011:

“[There is] a pressing need for new measures of transparency and regulation to deal with speculation on agricultural commodity futures markets."          

Civil society groups in the global south

La Via Campesina, international movement of small scale food producers, October 2011:

“Financial speculation is and has been widely recognised as the major cause of the food crisis of 2007-2008 and should therefore be efficiently stopped at the international or regional level if we really want to prevent this from happening again.”               

80 NGOs including Labour, Health and Human Rights Development Centre, Nigeria, Centre For Social Concern, Malawi, and Grupo de Solidaridad-Arenal, Nicaragua, March 2010:

“Undue influence on food and energy commodity prices by speculators continues today as seen in unusually high oil prices… With global food production heavily dependent on oil … volatile energy commodity prices means volatile food prices.”     

Financial experts

Manager of Masters Capital Management hedge fund, Michael Masters, May 2008:

“Are institutional investors contributing to food and energy price inflation? … My unequivocal answer is “YES.” … What we are experiencing is a demand shock coming from a new category of participant in the commodities futures markets: … pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, university endowments and other institutional investors. Collectively, these investors now account on average for a larger share of outstanding commodities futures contracts than any other market participant.”          

Chief economist of Goldman Sachs, Jim O’Neill, April 2009:

“I see so much focus on food, and it seems to be so trendy in the investment world. … The markets seem to me to have a bubble-like quality.”                     

Chairman of the US regulator, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Gary Gensler, June 2009:

“Over the past few years, price spikes and unprecedented volatility in the commodity markets have hurt farmers, consumers and businesses."           

Academics 

Professor of economics at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, Jayati Ghosh, May 2010:

“Globally the world trade prices of food have been rising since about April 2009, and all the indications are that they're rising for the same reasons that they rose way back in 2007-2008, which is to say that it's not driven so much by global supply and demand factors, but it's driven by financial involvement in the commodity futures markets.”    

18 economists including Ilene Grabel and Martin Wolfson in a letter to US Congress, June 2010:

“Deregulation that began in 2000 … encouraged hyper-speculative activities by market players who had no interest in the underlying physical commodities being traded. This produced severe price swings for both oil and food in 2008-09 and destabilized business and household budgets in the US and throughout the world.”

Business leaders

Founder of Virgin Group, Sir Richard Branson, October 2010:

“There is strong evidence that speculation exacerbated the last oil and food bubble. Speculation will fuel the next one too, unless meaningful speculative position limits are established.”       

Chief executive of Unilever, Paul Polman, January 2011:

“One of the main things in food inflation is that it has attracted the speculators for short-term profit at the expense of people living a dignified life. It is difficult to understand that if you really want to work for the long-term interests of society.”

Chief executive of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, May 2011:

“Without any real supply or demand issues we are witness to the fact that most agricultural food commodities are at record highs at once, and coffee is at a 34-year high. Through financial speculation … the commodities market is in a very unfortunate position.”    

Frequently asked questions

How does betting on food prices in financial markets work? How does that affect the price?

‘Futures contracts’ were first created in the United States in the 19th century to help farmers deal with the uncertainties involved in growing crops, such as unforeseen weather conditions.  A ‘futures contract’ enables farmers to sell their crops at a future date, at a guaranteed price. This gives farmers greater certainty when choosing which crops to grow.  

To buy a futures contract you do not need to buy or sell actual food and so financial players entered the market to make money from these contracts. Following the Wall Street Crash in the 1930s, regulations were introduced by the US government to limit speculation on food prices. But these regulations were weakened in the 1990s through corporate lobbying which allowed rampant betting on the price of staple foods by bankers. 

Complex contracts were created called ‘derivatives’. This just means that the value of the contract is ‘derived’ from the commodity being traded. But no actual trading of the physical commodity needs to take place. Derivatives are based on the concept of a ‘futures’ contract but have become more complex.

The price of derivatives in food is affected by demand and supply. As more derivatives in a food are bought, the more the price of a derivative contract rises. This causes the ‘future’ price of food to rise. As mentioned above, this rising price of food in the future has a knock-on effect on the real price of food now.

How do futures prices affect today’s food prices? 

To buy a futures contract you do not need to buy or sell actual food. However, the price of food in a futures contract helps to determine the real price of food. If futures prices rise, it is likely to cause the real price of food to rise. 

For example, if a tonne of wheat is selling for £100 today but through a futures contract the farmer can sell that same tonne of wheat for £200 in three months then the farmer may choose to hold back the sale of wheat until then. This reduces the quantity of wheat being sold and with less wheat being sold, today’s prices will be pushed up. Alternatively, the farmer may demand £200 now from buyers, in which case the price today will also be pushed up. 

Rising prices can also increase demand as buyers look to make purchases sooner to avoid future price increases. This increase in demand then pushes up the price of food.

How is speculation on food prices done and who does it?

The main way that investors speculate on food commodities is through ‘commodity index funds’. These indexes put money into derivatives across a range of commodities (such as oil, metals and food). They were mainly created by banks such as Goldman Sachs and Deutsche Bank. It is estimated the total money in such index funds increased from US$46 billion in 2005 to US$250 billion by early 2008. Money began to be taken out of the index funds in the months before food prices began to fall dramatically in mid-2008.

Commodity indexes are open for anyone to invest in, just like the FTSE 100 index for shares. However, they are rarely marketed at ‘ordinary’ people, and instead tend to be used by institutional investors such as pension funds, insurance companies and mutual funds (a professionally managed fund which pools money from individual investors).

Banks play an important part in the working of index funds. Banks tend to arrange the buying of derivatives contracts for their clients as well as act as the seller of contracts the index fund is buying. This effectively means banks are trading against their own clients. 

The banks at the centre of commodity speculation include Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Barclays Capital, Citibank, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and JP Morgan. 

Doesn’t speculation simply follow market trends, not create them? 

Some speculation does follow market trends. This has the potential to amplify market changes, making them more extreme. However, speculation by index funds in particular does not pay attention to demand and supply in a particular commodity market. In addition financial speculators as a whole are less likely to pay attention to supply and demand than commercial traders.

Financial traders who put money into commodity speculation do so to diversify the kinds of things they have money in, in addition to more traditional places to put money such as shares, currencies and government bonds. Money therefore comes and goes into and out of commodities for reasons unrelated to the supply and demand of that commodity. This can create price trends, increasing price inflation and volatility.  

But isn’t speculation supposed to help stabilise markets?

Defenders of speculation argue that the extra cash (or liquidity) that it brings helps to smooth the process of buying and selling, stabilising the market. They claim that because speculators are believed to buy when prices are low and sell when prices are high they even out price volatility. 

However, once speculators dominate the market, they can end up creating and following price trends to form bubbles that distort prices – at least in the short and medium term. 

Even temporary spikes in food prices can have devastating effects on consumers in poorer countries. 

How do high food prices affect poor people?

High food prices means buying less food, or having less money to spend on other things. Higher food prices are causing more people to go hungry. The 2007-8 food crisis pushed another 115 million people into hunger. Food price rises forced 44 million people into extreme poverty in the last six months of 2010 alone. Nearly 1 billion people are now chronically malnourished. 

But the impact of high prices goes well beyond not getting enough to eat. Poor households in developing countries tend to spend between 50 and 90 per cent of their income on food, compared to an average of 10-15 per cent in developed countries. As well as eating less food, households have been forced to: 

  • Eat less fruit, vegetables, dairy and meat in order to afford staple foods such as wheat. This can have drastic impacts on protein and vitamin intake. Nutritional deficiencies particularly affect children, pregnant women and unborn children.

  • Reduce any savings or take out loans. This can include selling off assets vital to future income such as land or cattle. 

  • Reduce spending on healthcare, education or family planning.

  • Women tend to manage the food budget and often bear much of the suffering. Women may also try to increase income through taking on insecure and risky employment as domestic workers, mail-order brides and sex workers.

Even in countries such as the UK, low-income households are badly hit by food price inflation, with prices 6.9 per cent higher in June 2011 than a year earlier. 

Is it the high price of food or the fluctuations in food price which are the problem? 

Both. The extreme increase in the price of food caused  major problems for households in developing countries as mentioned above. But increased fluctuations also create problems.

In recent years, there have been greater fluctuations in food prices. These price swings make it difficult for both producers and consumers of food. For instance, farmers may choose to plant a certain crop on the basis of its high price, but find that the price has collapsed by the time they harvest.

Extreme variations in food and oil prices also make it more difficult for governments to plan how to run their economies. Whether they are net importers or exporters of food and oil, big price changes can play havoc with growth rates, tax revenues, debt and inflation. All of which make it more difficult to manage the economy in a sustainable way.

For instance, the FAO says: “At the national level, many developing countries are still highly dependent on primary  commodities, either in their exports or imports. While sharp price spikes can be a temporary boon to an exporter’s economy, they can also heighten the cost of importing foodstuffs and agricultural inputs. At the same time, large fluctuations in prices can have a destabilizing effect on real exchange rates of countries, putting a severe strain on their economy and hampering their efforts to reduce poverty.”

Aren’t high prices good for poor farmers in developing countries as they’ll get better prices for their produce?

No, high food prices affect poor farmers as well as the urban poor. Very few poor farmers produce a significant surplus to sell and a high percentage of rural households are net  buyers of staple foods. In Kenya and Mozambique, around 60 per cent of rural householders are net buyers of maize. 

In Zambia, 80 per cent of farm households grow maize, but fewer than 30 per cent sell any. Any farmers who do have a surplus to sell may see little benefit of higher prices. The FAO says that consumers in urban areas are more likely to see the effects of higher prices than producers in rural areas. Moreover, large producers which are part of large (sometimes multinational) companies are most able to benefit from high prices. 

Africa has gone from being a net exporter of food in 1970 to a massive net importer. Around 55 per cent of developing countries are net food importers and almost all countries in Africa are now net importers of cereals. This means they are hugely reliant on the world food prices of their staple foods and higher prices have a direct impact on their ability to feed themselves. 

We buy Fairtrade products because it guarantees a high price. Aren’t high prices a good thing?

Fairtrade products guarantee a fairer, higher price for farmers growing crops in developing countries which are exported to countries like the UK. Typical Fairtrade crops are ‘cash crops’ like cocoa, coffee and sugar. Higher prices received for such products are good for farmers and  communities growing such crops.

One key aspect of Fairtrade is that it guarantees stable prices. Therefore farmers do not suffer from the wild fluctuations in prices (see above) which are partly caused by financial speculation. However, even farmers benefiting from stable higher prices for their cash crops due to Fairtrade still have to buy staple crops for their own consumption, which continue to fluctuate wildly in price. 

The Fairtrade Foundation states that the majority of its “farmers like most smallholders, are net food buyers and as such only a minority have gained from increased commodity prices”.

Aren’t low commodity prices also a problem for developing countries, surely high prices are a good thing?

Through the 1980s and 1990s many developing countries suffered from low commodity prices, particularly for  tropical commodities such as sugar, cocoa, coffee, tea, jute, cotton and rubber. One estimate is that by 2002, developing countries were losing $240 billion a year from the fall in price of then top ten tropical commodity exports since the 1980s. The price of commodities was due to rise.

Whether or not a country’s economy has been helped or hindered by high commodity prices in recent years depends on how much the price of commodities it exports increases compared to those it imports. During 2007 and 2008 the price of oil and staple foods, such as wheat and maize, tended to increase a lot more than that of cash crop exports such as cotton, coffee and cocoa. This meant that the amount they were paying to buy the food they ate outweighed the income received from selling cash crops. 

More fundamentally, what is most important for developing countries as a whole is to receive stable prices on which they can plan their economic development. One of the reasons low prices for crops such as coffee were so damaging in the 1990s is that the World Bank had made countries start growing a small number of popular crops assuming that the price would be higher. 

Speculation destabilises countries because it makes prices more volatile as they fluctuate more. Pedro Paez, former Ecuadorian minister for economic policy coordination, says that both high and low prices “are bad because both are the result of a distortion in the market. For example, the oil price because of speculation on futures went as high as $150 per barrel, and then due to short-selling dropped in four weeks to less than $40. How as an importer or exporter can you plan a sustainable economy under those conditions? If you export just three basic commodities but don’t have any idea what the future price will be, your food security is very vulnerable. The lives of millions of people come to depend on the activities of a handful of financial speculators.”  

Did the price of all foods rise in 2007 and 2008?

No, there were differences in how food prices changed between commodities. There were changes in supply and demand which would have caused price changes without speculation. However speculation amplified the impacts of these price changes. For example, Brazil has rapidly increased production and exports of sugar, with a higher quantity available in the world market, there has been little scope for speculation to amplify a price change. 

Consequently, there is evidence that there was no increase in financial speculation in sugar futures in 2007 and 2008. Some important staple foods such as sorghum, millet and cassava are not traded on futures markets – because they aren’t produced or consumed in the main trading centres.  Prices for such crops rose in 2007/08, though by nowhere near as much as for wheat and, maize and rice.

This is evidence of the role of financial speculation in driving up prices of crops such as wheat and maize. Specifically in reference to the potato, research for the FAO says: “being absent in the major commodity exchanges, there is no risk of potato bearing the ill-effects of speculative activity, which cannot be said of cereal commodities”. 

However, if the price of imported food such as wheat and maize has risen, this is likely to have a knock-on impact on locally produced crops such as sorghum as demand for them increases to replace more expensive foods. 

Very little rice is traded on international commodity exchanges or in futures contracts. Yet the price of rice increased far more than that of wheat in 2007 and 2008. Does this mean that speculation was not the problem?

The international market for rice is very small; about 6-7 per cent of global production. As the rice price rose, key rice exporters such as India, Vietnam and Thailand introduced export bans to protect rice availability for their own people, making the international market even smaller. The rising price also probably prompted households to buy and store more rice, in anticipation of rising prices, which caused prices to rise further.

Some commentators point to rice to show that financial speculation was not a problem. It is undoubtedly the case that the reason the rice price went so high was due to the factors listed above. However, there is strong evidence that the extreme increase in the price of wheat triggered the increase in the price of rice.

In some countries, most importantly India, rice and wheat are substitutes for each other. India is a large net importer of wheat. The average cost of India’s net wheat imports rose from $220 a tonne in 2006 to $255 a tonne in 2007 and $370 a tonne in 2008. As well as causing the local wheat price to rise, this also led to India importing far less wheat in 2008. 

Net imports fell from 5 million tonnes in 2007 to just over 700,000 tonnes in 2008. This rise in the price of wheat and fall in wheat imports had knock-on impacts on rice price and demand.

The global price of wheat increased particularly in late 2007, whilst the rice price increase began in early 2008. Statistical tests show that at times the price of rice is ‘caused’ by the price of wheat. There was a crucial period at the start of 2008 when statistical tests by a researcher for the FAO have shown that the rise in the price of rice was ‘caused’ by the rise in the price of wheat. 

Prices of rice, wheat and maize 2001-2009, IMF Similarly, a research paper for the World Bank says that there was little change in production or stocks of rice, and the initial increase in world rice price was caused by the increases in wheat prices in 2007. An FAO food outlook  report says: “The shock to demand for rice was largely generated by demand to make up shortfalls in wheat available to consumers.”

Financial speculation can be said to have had an impact on the rice price by amplifying the increase in the price of wheat, which in turn triggered the dramatic increase in the price of rice.

What has happened to food prices since the food crisis of 2008? Are food prices stable now or are they still volatile?

The prices of key staples wheat, maize and rice fell sharply after the spike in 2007 and 2008, but generally remained above pre-2006 levels. Food prices have risen again since mid-2010, setting new records for three consecutive months from December and remaining high. Moreover, the volatility of food prices – how much they move around – seems to still be higher than before 2006.

These recent increases have not yet produced a global food crisis thanks to good 2010 harvests in many African countries that kept prices stable. Rice has also avoided drastic price increases. However high prices are one factor in the food crisis experienced in the Horn of Africa in 2011.

Chocolate producers have identified speculation as a key reason why cocoa prices reached an all time high in April 2010. As long as speculators are not regulated they will be able to cause big increases and changes in price, with disastrous consequences for people across the world.

Wasn’t it the high oil price which caused high food prices in 2007 and 2008?

Oil definitely has an impact on food price by affecting the cost of transport fuel and fossil-fuel based fertiliser. But the oil price rise was due in part to speculation as well. The price of a barrel of oil increased from $60 in 2006 to almost $150 in mid-2008, before falling rapidly to $40 in a matter of weeks. Whilst there are underlying reasons for a rising oil price, these extreme swings can only be explained by speculation.

An April 2010 survey of banks, traders and oil companies found that 70 per cent say speculation is currently increasing the price of oil, on average by $10 to $30 a barrel. 

Isn’t it a good thing that oil price is high to deter people from using it?  

If high oil prices are sustained several things are likely:

  • Investing in alternative and more energy efficient technologies becomes more attractive. 

  • But investing in increasing oil extraction, particularly from the dirtiest fuels such as tar sands, also becomes more attractive. A high oil price by itself will do nothing to tackle climate change. Government intervention is needed to ultimately keep oil in the ground.

  • Most developing countries are net oil importers, so higher oil prices add to their import bill. After food, energy is one of the largest expenditures for poorer people. 

  • Whilst net oil exporters benefit from high oil prices, they are affected by the high volatility of the oil price. Whether they are net importers or exporters of food and oil, big price changes can play havoc with growth rates, tax revenues, debt and inflation. All of which makes it more difficult to manage the economy in a sustainable way.

For real demand and supply reasons oil prices are likely to continue rising over the medium-term. This is a reason for all countries to invest in cleaner alternatives. But large swings in oil price, and artificially high prices, are likely to create more problems than they solve.

Surely there are much more important factors driving the movement of food prices – isn’t speculation relatively unimportant? 

There are many factors driving the movement of food prices. Increased use of biofuels diverts food from humans to being fuel for cars. Changes in crop yields from year to year affect food supply, and such changes are likely to get more extreme as climate change increases. Increases in oil and fertiliser prices also make farming more expensive, and so increase the price of food.

No one campaign or policy can tackle all the complexities which cause hunger in our world. Governments need to support smallholder farmers who produce most of the world’s food and should invest in food reserves to help promote stable prices. But excessive speculation is a perversion, amplifying price movements and making them worse.

It can be regulated simply and painlessly. Doing so would also have other benefits.

What regulation is needed to curb speculation on food?

Two key measures are needed to ensure that financial speculation cannot distort food prices and cause hunger:

  • ‘Position limits’ to cap the share of the market held by financial speculators (as opposed to actual food traders  using futures markets to insure themselves against the risk of price changes).

  • Clearing of almost all derivatives on regulated exchanges, instead of secretive, private ‘over-thecounter’ deals (which currently account for 84 per cent of derivatives trading). This would increase transparency, allowing everyone to see what is being traded at what price. It would also ensure that most derivative trading is subject to proper oversight and regulation, which does not currently happen for over-the-counter trading.

The European commission is drawing up proposals to regulate speculation, mainly through the ‘Markets in Financial Instruments Directive’ (MiFID). These will be considered by the European Parliament and member country finance ministers. The UK government could be a major stumbling block to effective regulation.

What’s the problem with the UK government’s plans?

The UK government accepts the need for more transparency but does not want to introduce position limits. Instead ministers are in favour of ‘position management’, which they say gives regulators the flexibility to intervene in the market when necessary. In practice however, they have tended to be so hands-off that position management has amounted to complete deregulation.

Clear position limits are needed to limit the influence of financial speculators and effectively stabilise the futures market. 

What are the other benefits of regulating commodity speculation?

Because the price of commodity futures has been increasingly driven by financial speculation, it has become more difficult for real buyers and sellers of food to use futures to manage their risk. For example, a subcommittee of the US senate has found that in 2007 and 2008 some US farmers were unable to afford future contracts to manage the risks involved in farming. 

Large amounts of money tied up in futures contracts is also a waste of resources. Instead of being used on speculation, resources could be used on genuine assets and investment to increase production. This opportunity cost is particularly pertinent following the credit crunch, as small and medium sized businesses have struggled to secure sufficient capital. 

Limiting speculation on commodities could divert resources to being invested in genuinely productive activities. 

What are the benefits of futures contracts?

Futures contracts are useful to farmers and processors of food to manage the risk of price changes. Some ‘speculation’ is needed for farmers and processors to do this. Speculators are effectively needed to provide insurance. However, there is no reason for the excessive amount of speculation we have seen in recent years. 

Limiting the amount of speculation would prevent excessive speculation, whilst still enabling farmers and processors to use futures as a form of insurance for which they were originally intended. 

What is happening elsewhere on food and speculation?

Since the food and oil price spikes in 2007 and 2008, the US government has expressed concern over the impact of financial speculation. Gary Gensler, appointed by President Obama as Chairman of the US regulator the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), says: “I believe that increased speculation in energy and agricultural products has hurt farmers and consumers.”

In 2010 the US passed legislation to re-regulate financial markets. However, implementation of measures to curb commodity speculation is being slowed by political and financial opposition to reforms. There is a strong campaign of over 400 groups in the US campaigning for regulation of commodity speculation, including civil society organisations, farmers and businesses.

Action in Europe would also help the campaign in the US. Food speculation has also been on the G20 agenda in 2011. A strong mandate from G20 leaders to tackle commodity speculation could ensure that food speculation is curbed around the globe.  

How banks cause hunger

Without any real supply or demand issues we are witness to the fact that most agricultural food commodities are at record highs at once, and coffee is at a 34-year high. Through financial speculation … the commodities market is in a very unfortunate position."
- Howard Shultz, chief executive of Starbucks

Financial speculation has overwhelmed agricultural derivative markets. It has inflated prices, increased price volatility and created bubbles completely unrelated to supply and demand.

For a simple, visual explanation of food speculation, check out the animation or the infographic – or for more detail, read on!

In a well-functioning market, prices should be affected only by changes in supply and demand. But data from the US Department of Agriculture on global supply and demand for wheat and maize shows that here have been no significant changes that could have caused the large price rises that we have seen in recent years. 

While other factors such as export bans, increased demand for biofuels, climate change and increased food consumption in China and India have contributed to long-term price rises, they cannot explain the short-term price fluctuations that we have seen in recent years. 

Instead, speculation lies at the heart of the problem. But how does it work? To understand it we first need to understand futures contracts and their role in food markets.

Futures contracts

Futures allow farmers to agree a guaranteed price with a buyer for their next harvest well in advance, giving them greater certainty of income when planting crops. In a sense, a futures contract is a form of insurance against price changes. In financial terms, it enables a farmer to hedge their risk.

Futures contracts can then be traded on futures markets, with other farmers, food buyers or speculators. Speculators aim to make money by buying and holding on to the contracts, seeking to profit from changing prices. Having a degree of speculation helps these markets function , making sure that farmers have someone to pass their risk on to.

Until the 1990s futures markets were regulated through position limits (a limit on the amount of the market that can be held by big traders). But following lobbying by banks such as Goldman Sachs these markets were deregulated. As a result, financial speculators flooded the market with over $100 billion. This money wasn’t being traded based on the supply or demand for food, but was largely bet on rising prices, forcing prices to rise higher and faster.

But how do futures contracts affect the physical price (spot price) of commodities? It does so in three main ways:

1) Influencing the expectations of buyers and sellers

Because there aren’t many major central markets for food commodities, it is often difficult for food producers and buyers to know what the physical price of food should be. Instead, the prices of the numerous trades in the futures markets are often used as a benchmark for negotiating real prices for food. If futures prices are high, this changes the expectations of buyers and sellers in the physical markets and physical prices go up. If food producers see that prices will be higher in the future, they will often wait to sell their food, thus reducing supply and increasing prices now. In addition, if food buyers see that prices will be higher in the future they will be more willing to pay more now, also increasing prices.

2) Using futures prices now

Futures prices are often used as the basis for pricing physical market contracts. For example, grain prices on the major Chicago exchanges tend to be incorporated directly into grain contracts the world over. 

By incorporating the futures price directly into physical commodity contracts the prices from the financial markets are translated straight into the prices of food. 

3) Taking advantage of differences between future and spot prices

Traders who are willing (and able) to take physical delivery of a commodity can profit from differences between futures and physical prices. If futures prices are higher than physical prices, traders wanting to buy physical commodities who hold futures contracts near the delivery date will sell them and try to buy (cheaper) physical contracts. This then increases demand for physical commodities now, pushing up physical prices. Traders call this process arbitrage. 

Read frequently asked questions about food speculation.

 

450 economists tell the G20: regulate speculation on food prices

11 October 2011

Dear G20 Finance Ministers,

We write to you ahead of the October meeting of the G20 Finance Ministers to urge you to commit with your counterparts to take effective action to curb excessive speculation on food commodities. Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record high food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty.

While there are many pressures on food prices, fundamental changes in supply and demand cannot fully account for the dramatic price fluctuations that have occurred in recent years.

In June, a report for the G20 by international organisations including the IMF and the OECD noted that “too much speculation can cause frequent and erratic price changes” in futures markets. Evidence suggests that financial speculators are less likely to make trading decisions based on information regarding supply and demand and are more prone to herding behaviours than commercial traders. Excessive speculation undermines the price discovery function of futures markets, driving real prices away from levels determined by supply and demand.

The High Level Panel of Experts on food security for the Committee on World Food Security at the FAO reported in July that “tighter regulation of speculation is necessary.” The panel suggested that “Increasing transparency, by requiring exchange trading and clearing of most agricultural commodity contracts, and setting lower limits for noncommercial actors could be the first set of measures taken by the countries that house major commodity exchanges.”

Increasing market transparency is vital, but will not go far enough to tackle excessive financial speculation. We therefore urge you to support the establishment of position limits to cap the proportion of agricultural commodity derivatives markets that can be  held by financial speculators. Limits could be set at a level that would maintain sufficient liquidity in the markets while preventing an excessive concentration of purely financial actors. The US has already passed legislation including provisions to introduce such limits and the G20 should act to prevent regulatory arbitrage between exchanges.

Position limits would be more effective in tackling excessive speculation than position management powers, which rely on the use of judgement by exchanges and provide little assurance that powers will be exercised effectively. Clear limits would provide regulatory certainty, promoting stable and sustainable derivatives markets to the benefit of food producers, consumers and broader economic stability.

With around 1 billion people enduring chronic hunger worldwide, action is urgently needed to curb excessive speculation and its effects on global food prices.

Yours sincerely,

cc: Michel Barnier, European commissioner for internal market and services

Signed

 

Mr Abdulhafiz Ahmed Abdisubhan, Finance and Economic Development Bureau, ETHIOPIA

Charles Abugre, Regional Director (Africa), The United Nations Millennium Campaign, Nairobi, KENYA

Prof Nicola Acocella, Department of Methods and Models for Economics, Territory and Finance, Faculty of Economics, University of Rome, ITALY

Dr Funda Rana Adacay, Associate Professor in Economics, Anadolu Univeristy, Eskisehir, TURKEY

Dr Ipek Illkkaracan Ajas, Associate Professor of Economics, Istanbul Technical University, TURKEY

Dr Alpaslan Akcoraoglu, Associate Professor of Economics, Gazi University, TURKEY

Prof A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi, Chair of the Department of International Development Studies, Trent University Peterborough, CANADA

Mr Tanweer Ali, Lecturer in Finance, Empire State College, State University of New York, USA

Marzouq Alnusf, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA

Wilfried Altzinger, Department of Economics, Vienna University of Economics, AUSTRIA

Dr Francisco Alvarez Cuadrado, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, McGill University, CANADA

Dr Rui Henrique Alves, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Economics, University of Porto, PORTUGAL

Dr Bruno Amoroso, Department for Society and Globalization Roskilde, University Denmark, DENMARK

Prof Paolo Andrei, Professor in Business Economics, University of Parma, ITALY

Rania Antonopoulos, Senior Scholar and Director of Gender Equality and the Economy Program, Levy Economics Institute, USA

Dr Ozlem Arpac Arconian, Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Prof Alessandro Arrighetti, Professor of Economics, University of Parma, ITALY

Prof Wiji Arulampalam, Department of Economics, University of Warwick,UK

Prof Thankom Arun, Director of Institute of Global Finance and Public Policy, Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire, UK

Dr Michael Ash, Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy and Chair, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA

Prof Venkatesh Athreya, Professor of Economics, Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli, INDIA

Jonathan Adabre Atia, Policy Analyst, Integrated Social Development Centre, GHANA

Fiona Atkins, Lecturer in Economics, Birkbeck University of London, UK

Dr Rohit Azad, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics, South Asian University, New Delhi, INDIA

Prof M. V. Lee Badgett, Professor of Economics and Director for Center for Public Policy and Administration, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA

Dean Baker, Co-Director, Center for Economics and Policy Research, USA

Dr Dean Baker, Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, DC, USA

Prof Radhika Balakrishnan, Professor of Women's and Gender Studies Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, former Professor of Economics and International Studies at Marymount Manhattan College, USA

Prof Erol Balkan, Professor of Economics, Hamilton College, New York, USA

Dr Nesecan Balkan, Department of Economics, Hamilton College, USA

Dr Nina Banks, Associate Professor of Economics, Bucknell University, USA

Prof Drucilla K. Barker, Director Women’s & Gender Studies, Phd in Economics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, USA

Prof David Barkin, Distinguished Professor of Economics, Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana-Xochimilco, Mexico City, MEXICO

Dr John Barnshaw, Department of Sociology, University of South Florida, USA

Dr Stephanie Barrientos, Senior Lecturer, Institute of Development Policy and Management, Associate Director Brooks World Poverty Programme, University of Manchester, UK

Michael Barrow, Senior Lecturer in Economics, School of Business, Management and Economics, University of Sussex, UK

Prof Hans-Heinrich Bass, Professor of International Economics, Bremen University of Applied Sciences, GERMANY

Dr PL Beena, ICSSR General Fellow, Institute for Studies in Industrial Development, New Delhi, INDIA

Riccardo Bellofiore, Department of Economic Science, University of Bergamo, ITALY

Prof Lourdes Beneria, Professor Emerita, Department of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University, USA

Prof Gunseli Berik, Economics Department, University of Utah, USA

Prof Jacques Berthelot, Emeritus professor of Economics, Ecole Nationale Supérieure Agronomique de Toulouse, FRANCE

Prof Sheila Bhalla, Professor at the Institute for Human Development, New Delhi, INDIA

Dr Ravi Bhandari, Associate Professor and Chevron Chair of Development Economics, Saint Mary's College of California, USA

Prof Cyrus Bina, Distinguished Research Professor of Economics, University of Minnesota, USA

Dr Stephanie Blankenburg, Department of Economics and CISD, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

Prof Patrick Bond, Professor of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, SOUTH AFRICA

Dr A. J. C. Bose, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Shri Ram College of Commerce, University of Delhi, INDIA

Sam Boshra, Economist, CANADA

Dr Roger Even Bove, Department of Economics & Finance, West Chester University, USA

Dr Christopher Bowdler, University Lecturer in Economics and Fellow of Oriel College, University of Oxford, UK

Dr James K. Boyce, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

Dr Manuel Branco, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Évora, PORTUGAL

Prof Luiz Carlos Bresser-Pereira, Professor Emeritus of Economics, Getulio Vargas Foundation, Sao Paulo, BRAZIL

Dr Kate Bronfenbrenner, Senior Lecturer, Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations, USA

Dr Reiner Buchegger, Associate Professor, Johannes Kepler University, AUSTRIA

Dr Jorge Buzaglo, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Goteburg, SWEDEN

Prof Antonio Callari, Sigmund M. and Mary B. Hyman Professor of Economics, and Director of the Local Economy Center, Franklin and Marshall College, Lancaster, USA

Prof Jim Campen, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Dr Michele Cangiani, Associate Professor of Economic Sociology, Foscari Venezia University, ITALY

Dr Michael Carter, Associate Professor of Economics, Chair of Economics Department, University of Massachusetts, Lowell, USA

Prof Carlos Nuno Castel-Branco, Director of Institute of Social Economics Studies, MOZAMBIQUE

Prof Sergio Cesaratto, Professor of Economics University of Siena, ITALY

Rakesh Chandra, Junior Research Fellow, Center for the Study of Regional Development, Jawahar Lal Nehru University, New Delhi, INDIA

Shouvik Chakaraborty, Assistant Professor, Indian School of Business and Finance (ISBF), New Delhi, INDIA

Malini Chakravarty, Senior Economist, International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs), New Delhi, INDIA

Prof Nirmal K. Chandra, Professor of Economics (Retd), Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, INDIA

Prof C. P. Chandrasekhar, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning Jawaharlal Nehru University New Delhi, INDIA

Dr Ha-Joon Chang, Reader, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge, UK

Dr Anup Chatterjee, Associate Professor in Economics, ARSD College, University of Delhi, INDIA

Prof Monojit Chatterji, Bonar Professor of Apllied Economics, University of Dundee, UK and Bye Fellow in Economics and Director of Studies in Economics, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, U.K

 

Prof Sudip Chaudhuri, Professor of Economics, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, INDIA

Pallavi Chavan, Economist, INDIA

 

Prof Robert Chernomas, Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, CANADA

Dr Lynne Chester, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Victoria Chick, Emeritus Professor of Economics, University College London, UK

Prof Wittayakorn Chiengkul, Professor of Political Economy, Dean of Social Innovation College, Rangsit University, THAILAND

Prof Anis Chowdhury, Professor of Economics, University of Western Sydney, and Co-editor of the Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy, AUSTRALIA

John Christensen, Economic Adviser and Director, Tax Justice Network, London, UK

Kimberly Christensen, Visiting Faculty Member in Economics and Public Policy, Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York, USA

Dr Mammen Chundamannil, Head of Forest Economics, Kerala Forest Research Institute, INDIA

Dr Edward J. Clay, Senior Research Associate, Overseas Development Institute, London, UK

Prof Pavel Isa Contreras, Professor of Economics, Santo Domingo, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Eileen Cook, Scottish Agricultural College, Scotland, UK

Dr Eugenia Correa, Department of Economics, National Autonomous University of Mexico, MEXICO

Prof Marcella Corsi, Professor of Economics, Sapienza University of Rome, ITALY

Prof Carmen Costea, Professor of International Business and Commerce, ASE Bucharest, Founder and President of Alternative Sciences Association, ROMANIA

Prof Christopher Cramer, Professor of the Political Economy of Development, SOAS, UK

Prof James Crotty, Professor Emeritus of Economics and Helen Sheridan Memorial Scholar, UMASS Amherst, USA

Antonio Cuerpo, Economist and Researcher, University Complutense of Madrid, SPAIN

Dr Carlo D’Ippoliti, Assistant Professor of Economics, Sapienza University of Rome, ITALY

Dr Omar S. Dahi, Assistant Professor of Economics, Hampshire College, USA

Dr Gareth Dale, Senior Lecturer in Politics & International Relations, Brunel University, London, UK

Dr Anita Dancs, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Western New England University, USA

Dr Charles Danreuther, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Guglielmo Forges Davanzati, Associate Professor of Economics, Faculty of Political Sciences, University of Salento, Lecce, ITALY

Prof Chuck David, Professor of Labor Studies, Indiana University, USA

Paul Davidson, Editor of Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Fellow at Bernard Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, USA

Prof Joaquim P. de Andrade, Professor of Economics, University of Brasilia, BRAZIL

Dr Elisabetta de Antoni, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Trento University, ITALY

Dr Catherine de Fontenay, Associate Professor, Melbourne Business School, University of Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Dr Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, Assistant Professor in Political Economy and Behavioural Science, University College London, UK

Prof Carmen Diana Deere, Distinguished Professor of Food & Resource Economics and Latin American Studies, University of Florida, USA

Benny Dembitzer, Visiting Lecturer in Macroeconomic Theory, Greenwich Business School, University of Greenwich, UK

Dr Firat Demir, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Oklahoma, USA

Dr Andy Denis, Senior lecturer in political economy, City University London, UK

Dr Richard Denniss, Executive Director, The Australia Institute, AUSTRALIA

Prof Radhika Desai, Author, Department of Political Studies, University of Manitoba, CANADA

Prof Sergio Destefanis, Professor of Economics, University of Salerno, ITALY

Dr Stephen Devereux, Research Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex , UK

Ashok M. Dhareshwar, Retired World Bank Economist and visiting faculty at Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta

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Prof Robert Dixon, Professor of Economics, University of Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Prof Thomas L. Dobbs, Professor Emeritus of Economics, South Dakota State Univeristy, USA

José Domingo Villadeamigo, Research Fellow, CEPED, Institute of Economics, FCE-UBA, ARGENTINA

Prof Daniel Drache, Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Political Science, Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, CANADA

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Dr Graham Dyer, Economics Department, SOAS, University of London, UK

Prof Gary A Dymski, Professor of Economics, University of California, Riverside, USA

Dr Michael Edwards, Senior Lecturer in the Economics of Planning and Leverhulme Emeritus Fellow, The Bartlett School, University College London, UK

Prof Frank Ellis, Professorial Fellow, School of International Development, University of East Anglia, UK

Prof Wolfram Elsner, Author and Professor of Economics, Economics and Business Studies, University of Bremen, GERMANY

Prof Diane Elson, Phd in Economics, Professor at the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation, Department of Sociology, University of Essex, UK

Prof Gerald Epstein, Professor of Economics and Co-Director of Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts, USA

Dr M. Mustafa Erdogdu, Associate Professor of Economics, Marmara University, TURKEY

Prof Korkut Erturk, Professor of Economics, University of Utah, USA

Mr Ismail Erturk, Senior Lecturer in Banking, Manchester Business School, UK

Prof Jerry Evensky, Professor of Economics, Syracuse University, USA

Prof Guilhem Fabre, Professor of Economics and Chinese Studies, University of Le Havre, FRANCE

Prof Susan Feiner, Professor of Economics and of Women and Gender Studies, University of Southern Maine, USA

Prof Leornardo Felli, Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

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Prof Ben Fine, Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK

Dr Kade Finnoff, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Prof Mahir Fisunoglu, Professor of Economics, Cukurova University, TURKEY

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Prof Maria S. Floro, Department of Economics, American University, Washington, USA

Prof Giuseppe Fontana, Professor of Monetary Economics, Head of Economics, Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, UK

Prof Alan Freeman, Visiting Professor of London Metropolitan University, UK

Dr Ines Freier, Economist, GERMANY

Dr Jose Ricardo Fucidji, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, UNESP, BRAZIL

Dr Kevin Gallagher, Associate Professor of International Relations and Director of Global Development Policy Program, Boston University, USA

Dr Clara Garcia, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Complutense University of Madrid, SPAIN

Prof Christian Gehrke, Department of Economics, University of Graz, AUSTRIA

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Dr Susan George, Political economist, Transnational Institute

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Dr David Gold, Associate Professor, Phd Economics, International Affairs Program, The New School, New York, USA

Francois Gobbe, Coordinator Kairos Europe WB, BRUSSELS

Prof Don Goldstein, Professor of Economics, Allegheny College, Meadville, USA

Dr Sara Gorgoni, Lecturer in Economics and Business, Business School, University of Greenwich, UK

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Prof Ian Gough, Emeritus Professor, University of Bath, and Professorial Research Fellow, London School of Economics, UK

Dr Krishn A. Goyal, Convener & Head of Management Department, Bhupal Nobles College, Udaipur, INDIA

Prof Ilene Grabel, Department of Economics, University of Denver, USA

Prof John Groenewegen, Professor of Economics of infrastructures, Delft University of Technology, NETHERLANDS

Joseph Halevi, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Ferda Halicioglu, Professor of Economics, Yeditepe University, TURKEY

Dr Peter Hall, Associate Professor, Urban Studies, Simon Fraser University, CANADA

Dr David Hall-Matthews, Senior Lecturer in International Development School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK

Lesie Hamilton, Associate Lecturer in Economics, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK

Prof Geoff Harcourt, Visiting Professorial Fellow at Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales, AUSTRALIA

Prof Jane Harrigan, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK

Prof Gillian Hart, Chair of Development Studies, University of California, Berkeley, USA

Dr Neil Hart, Senior lecturer, School of Economics and Finance, University of Western Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor of Economics, Lewis and Clark College, USA

Dr Ingrid Hartmann, Agricultural Economist, Berlin, GERMANY

Dr Joop Hartog, Emeritus Professor of Economics, Amsterdam School of Economics University of Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

Dr James Heintz, Associate Research Professor, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, USA

Anton Hellesøy, Economist and Independent consultant, NORWAY

Andrew Hepburn, Commodity Analyst, CANADA

Dr Barry Herman, Visiting Senior Fellow, Graduate Program in International Affairs, The New School, New York, USA

Arturo Hermann, Senior Research Fellow at ISTAT, Rome, ITALY

Dr Adam Hersh, Economist, Center for American Progress, USA

Dr Gillian Hewitson, Department of Political Economy, University of Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Nicholas Hildyard, Director of The Corner House, UK

Prof Susan Himmelweit, Professor of Economics, Faculty of Social Sciences, Open University, UK

Prof Geoffrey M. Hodgson, Research Professor in Business Studies, University of Hertfordshire, UK

Dr Raul Hopkins, Consultant on agricultural issues and information technologies, Lima, PERU

Dr David Hudson, Lecturer in Political Economy, Department of Political Science, University College London, UK

David Hulme, Professor of Development Studies, School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester, Head, Institute for Development Policy and Management, Executive Director, Brooks World Poverty Institute, CEO, Effective States and Inclusive Development, UK

Veronika Hummer, German Institute for Economic Research, Berlin, GERMANY

Prof Grazia Ietto-Gillies, Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics, London South Bank University, UK

Dr Katsushi Imai, Associate Professor in Development Economics, Department of Economics and Brooks World Poverty Institure, University of Manchester, UK

Gustavo Indart, Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Toronto, CANADA

Dr Davide Infante, Associate Professor of Political Economy Department of Economics and Statistics University of Calabria, ITALY

Prof George Irvin, Professorial Research Associate in Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK

Prof Toru Iwami, Professor of Economics, University of Tokyo, JAPAN

Dr Johannes Jäger, University of Applied Sciences BFI Vienna, AUSTRIA

Prof Jesper Jespersen, Professor of Economics, Roskilde University, DENMARK

Ravinder Jha, Lecturer, University of Delhi, INDIA

Anne Marie John, Economist, Economic Research Foundation, New Delhi, INDIA

Prof James Johnson, Department of Political Science, University of Rochester, New York, USA

Dr Michael Johnson, Associate Professor at School of Social Science and International Studies, University of New South Wales, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Sir Richard Jolly, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. UK

Mr Tinu Joseph, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, INDIA

Prof P.N. Junankar, Professorial Visiting Fellow, School of Economics, University of New South Wales and Emeritus Professor, University of Western Sydney, AUSTRALIA

David Kane, Associate for Latin America and Economic Justice, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, USA

Woojin Kang, Researcher, Crawford School of Economics and Government. Australian National University, AUSTRALIA

Dr Nikolaos Karagiannis, Associate Professor of Economics, Department of Economics & Finance, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina, USA

Dr Zahra Karimi, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Mazadaran, IRAN

Prof Massoud Karshenas, Professor of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Dr Emily Kawano, Executive Director, Center for Popular Economics & Solidarity Economy Network, USA

Prof Cristobal Kay, Emeritus Professor, International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS.

Dr Steve Keen, Associate Professor in Economics and Finance, University of Western Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Saul Keifman, Professor of Economics and Chair of the Economics Major School of Economics Sciences, University of Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

Prof Neil M. Kellard, Professor of Finance, Essex Business School, University of Essex, UK

Dr Stephanie A. Kelton, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Missouri-Kansas City, USA

Ahmet Kerem Özdemir, Research and Teaching Assistant, Finance Department, School of Business Administration, Istanbul University, TURKEY

Dr Prue Kerr, Department of Economics, University of Adelaide, South Australia, AUSTRALIA

Prof Farida C Khan, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin - Parkside, USA

Prof Sushil Khanna, Professor of Economics and Strategic Management, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, INDIA

Prof Mushtaq Husain Khan, Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Kijong Kim, Research Scholar, The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College Blithwood, New York, USA

Prof Mary C King, Professor of Economics, Portland State University, Oregon, USA

Dr Godbertha Kinyondo, Lecturer in Economics, Mzumbe University, Dar es Salaam Business College, TANZANIA

Prof Nikoi Kote-Nikoi, Professor of Economics, S.I.T Graduate Institute, Vermont, USA

Dr David Kristjanson-Gural, Associate Professor of Economics, Social Justice College, Lewisburg, USA

Mr Andrey Kuleshov, Economist at the Common Fund for Commodities, Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

Dr Uday Kumar, Associate Professor and Coordinator, Department of International Business,University College Mangalore, INDIA

Dr C. Nalin Kumar, Assistant Professor of Economics and Policy Research, Indian Institute of Plantation Management Bangalore, INDIA

Prof Amiya Kumar Bagchi, First Chancellor, Tripura Central University, Director Institute of Development Studies Kolkata, Calcutta University Alipore Campus, INDIA

Prof Sarosh Kuruvilla, Professor, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University, USA

Dr Pierre Lacour, Clinical Assistant Professor, Coordinator of Economics, New York University, USA

Dr Thomas Lambert, Lecturer in Economics, Indiana University Southeast, New Albany, USA

Prof Michael Landesmann, Professor of Economics and Scientific Director, Vienna Institute for International Economic Studies, AUSTRIA

Stewart Lansley, Research Fellow in Economics, University of Bristol, UK

Alessandra lanza, Chief Economist, Prometeia Spa Financial Consulting, ITALY

Dr Alberto Lanzavecchia, Assistant Professor in Corporate Finance University of Padova, ITALY

Prof Costas Lapavitsas, Department of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Prof Marc Lavoie, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, CANADA

Alejandro Ignacio Lazarte, MA, Zurich Financial Services, SWITZERLAND

Dr Jonathan Leape, Senior Lecturer in Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK

Prof Dennis Leech, Professor of Economics, Warwick University and Research Associate, CPNSS, London School of Economics, UK

Prof Margaret Levenstein, Professor of Business Economics and Public Policy, University of Michigan, USA

Dr Minqi Li, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Utah, USA

Dr Dan Li, Assistant Professor in Finance, School of Economics and Finance University of Hong Kong, HONG KONG

Dr Carlos F. Liard-Muriente, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Economics, Central Connecticut State University, USA

 Thomas Lines, Author of Making Poverty: A History, UK

Prof Sumanasiri Liyanage, Professor of Economics, University of Peradeniya, SRI LANKA

Juan José Llach, Director, Center for the Study of Government, Business, Society and the Economy, IAE Business School, Universidad Austral, ARGENTINA

Prof John Loxley, Department of Economics, University of Manitoba, CANADA

Prof Miguel Martinez Lucio, Manchester Business School, Manchester University, UK

Dr Hans-Jochen Luhmann, Research co-ordinator of future energy and mobility structures, Wuppertal-Institut, GERMANY

Prof Nora Lustig, Samuel Z. Stone Professor of Latin American Economics, Tulane University, USA

Prof Arthur MacEwan, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Massachusetts, Boston, USA

Mario Machungo, Economist and Chairman of Banco Internacional de Mocambique, Maputo, MOZAMBIQUE

Dr Donald MacLaren, Associate Professor and Director of Asian Economic Centre, University of Melbourne, AUSTRALIA

Dr Rasigan Maharajh, Chief Director, Institute for Economic Research on Innovation, Tshwane University of Technology, SOUTH AFRICA

Dr Fadhil A. Mahdi, Senior Economist, Formerly Chief of the Economics Analysis Division, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia

Dr Kamil Mahdi, Economist, Visiting Senior Fellow, Middle East Centre, London School of Economics, UK

Dr Chinglen Maisnam, Assistant Professor of Economics, Manipur University, INDIA

Casmir Makoye, Director of SME Competitiveness Facility, Dar Es Salaam, TANZANIA

Dr Stanley Malinowitz, Associate Professor of Economics, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, COLOMBIA

Steve Mandel, Research Associate, Department of International Development, Birmingham University, UK

Jens Martens, Director, Global Policy Forum Europe, GERMANY

Dr Nuno Miguel Ornelas Martins, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics and Management, Portuguese Catholic University, PORTUGAL

Dr Pietro Masina, Associate Professor of Applied Economics,University of Naples, ITALY

Dr Thomas Masterson, Research Scholar, Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, USA

Prof Julie Mattaei, Professor of Economics, Wellesley College, USA

Dr Reza Mazhari, Assistant Professor in Economics, Gonbad Kavoss, IRAN

Dr Kathleen McAfee, Associate Professor in International Relations and Political Economy, San Francisco State University, USA

Dr Elaine McCrate, Associate Professor, Economics and Women's Studies, University of Vermont, CANADA

Prof Terrence McDonough, Department of Economics, National University of Ireland, Galway, IRELAND

Dr Margaret McKenzie, Lecturer in Economics, Deakin University, AUSTRALIA

Dr Robert McMaster, Business School, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK

Dr Andrew Mearman, Associate Head of Accounting, Economics and Finance Department, University of the West of England, UK

James Medway, Senior Economist, New Economics Foundation, UK

Prof Michael Meeropol, Visiting Professor of Economics, City University of New York, USA

Dr Tesfa Mehari, International Partnerships Coordinator, Department of International Business & Economics, University of Greenwich, UK

Dr Martin Melkonian, Adj. Associate Professor of Economics, Hofstra University, USA

Prof Mary Mellor, Emeritus Professor of Social Science, Northumbria University, UK

Dr Emel Memis, Assistant Professor of Economics, Ankara University, TURKEY

Dr Helen Mercer, Senior Lecturer Business Economics, Business School, University of Greenwich, UK

Prof Peter B. Meyer, Professor Emeritus of Urban Policy and Economics and President and Chief Economist of the E.P Systems Group, Inc

Prof John Miller, Professor of Economics, Wheaton College, Norton, USA

Prof Marco Missaglia, Professor of International Economics and General Equilibrium Modelling, University of Pavia, ITALY

Dr Rudra Narayan Mishra, Assistant Professor of Economics, Gujarat Institute of Development Research, Ahmedabad, INDIA

Prof Nobuki Mochida, Professor of Economics, University of Tokyo, JAPAN

Prof Oudebji Mohamed, Professor of International Economic Law of Development, Marrakech, MOROCCO

Prof Mritiunjoy Mohanty, Professor, Economics Group, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, Kolkata, INDIA

Prof Simon Mohun, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

Prof Mario Morroni, Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Pisa, ITALY

Dr John Morrow, Research Economist, CEP at London School of Economics, UK

Dr Tracy Mott, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Economics, University of Denver, USA

Prof Sam Moyo, African Institute for Agrarian Studies (AIAS), ZIMBABWE

Prof Ananya Mukherjee-Reed, Professor and Chair, Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto, CANADA

Richard Murphy, Director, Tax Research UK

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Shri Sanat Kumar Naik, Economist, State Bank of India, INDIA

Nitya Nanda, Fellow, Centre for Global Agreements, Legislation and Trade (GALT), Resources, Regulation and Global Security Division, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi, INDIA

Dr Corinne Nativel, Senior Lecturer in Social Sciences, University of Franche-Comté, FRANCE

Prof Vincent Navarro, Professor of Public Policy, The Johns Hopkins University, USA

Dr Ioana Negru, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Anglia Ruskin University, UK

Dr Michaela Neumayr, Economist, Vienna University of Economics and Business, AUSTRIA

Paul Newlin, Lecturer, Environmental Policy, Amherst College & University of Massachusetts, USA

Dr Howard Nicholas, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Eurasmus University of Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS

Prof Eric Nilsson, Professor of Economics, California State University, USA

Prof Augusto Ninni, Professor of Industrial Organization at the University of Parma, ITALY

Prof Machiko Nissanke, Professor of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK

Dr Hassan E. Oaikhenan, Department of Economics & Statistics University of Benin, NIGERIA

Prof Mehmet Odekon, Professor of Economics, Skidmore College, USA

Prof Rod O'Donnell, Professor of Economics, University of Technology, Sydney, AUSTRALIA

 Samuel O. Oloruntoba, Doctoral Candidate and Lecturer, Department of Political Science, University of Lagos, NIGERIA

Dr Wendy Olsen, Senior Lecturer in Socio-Economic Research, University of Manchester, UK

Prof Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome, Professor of Political Science, Brooklyn College, CUNY, New York, USA

Prof G. Omkarnath, Department of Economics, University of Hyderabad, INDIA

Dr Ozlem Onaran, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University of Westminster, UK

Prof Ahmet Oncu, Professor of Economics, Sabanci University, TURKEY

Noemi Levy Orlik, Economic Lecturer, School of Economics, UNAM, MEXICO

Dr Quentin Outram, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Leeds University Business School, UK

Dr Carlos Oya, Senior Lecturer in Political Economy of Development, School of African and Oriental Studies, University of London, UK

Dr Adam Ozanne, Senior Lecturer in Economics, University of Manchester, UK

Prof Mustafa Ozer, Professor of Economics, Anadolu University, TURKEY

Dr Ilhan Ozturk, Assistant Professor and Coordinator, International Relations & Erasmus, Cag University, TURKEY

Dr Aaron Pacitti, Assistant Professor of Economics, Siena College, USA

Adel Paighami, Dean of Interdisciplinary Research Center for Social Sciences, Economics Faculty, Imam Sadiq University, IRAN

Dr Parthapratim Pal, Associate Professor of Economics, Indian Institute of Management Calcutta, INDIA

Radhakrushna Panda, Senior Research Officer, Centre for Microfinance Research, Bankers Institute of Rural Development, INDIA

Prof Dimitri Papadimitriou, President and Professor of Economics, Levy Economics Institute, New York, USA

Prof Man Seop Park, Professor of Economics, Korea University, SOUTH KOREA

Dr Raj Patel, Author and Research Fellow, School of Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, SOUTH AFRICA

Prof Ruth Pearson, Professor of International Development, University of Leeds, UK

Jamie Peck, Research Chair in Urban and Regional Political Economy, University of British Columbia, CANADA

Prof Fernando Pellerano, Professor of Economics, Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Dr Michael Perelman, Professor of Economics, California State University, USA

Prof Virginie Pérotin, Professor of Economics, Leeds University Business School, UK

Dr Karl Petrick, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Western New England University USA

Ann Pettifor, Director of Policy Research in Macroeconomics, UK

Dr Lynda J. Pickbourn, Assistant Professor of Economics, Keene State College, USA

Prof J F Pixley, Honary Professorial Research Fellow, Global Policy Institute, London Metropolitan University, UK

Prof Robert Pollin, Department of Economics and Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), University of Massachusetts-Amherst, USA

Prof Alexander Cotte Poveda, Professor of Economics, University of La Salle, USA

Prof Bernard van Praag, University of Amsterdam, AMSTERDAM

Ms Sajin Prachason, Sustainable Agriculture Foundation, THAILAND

Prof Eleuterio F. S. Prado, Professor of Political Economy, University of Sao Paulo, BRAZIL

Prof Robert E. Prasch, Professor of Economics,Middlebury College, USA

Dr Renee Prendergast, Reader, Queen's University Management School, Belfast, NORTHERN IRELAND

David Primack, Executive Director, International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty (ILEAP), CANADA

Prof Adam Przeworski, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor, Department of Politics, New York University, USA

Prof Alicia Puyana Mutis, Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences, Flasco, MEXICO

Mr Hugo Radice, Life Fellow, School of Politics and International Studies, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Kunibert Raffer, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA

Dr Anton Rainer, Federal Ministry of Finance, Vienna, AUSTRIA

Prof Indira Rajaraman, Honorary Visiting Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, INDIA

Prof V. K. Ramachandran, Professor, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata, INDIA

Prof K.V. Ramaswamy, Professor, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, INDIA

Prof Paolo Ramazzotti, Professor of Economic Policy, University of Macerata, ITALY

Prof D. Narasimha Reddy, Professor of Economics, University of Hyderabad, INDIA

Howard Reed, Director, Landman Economics, UK

Prof Michael Reich, Professor of Economics and Director of Institute for Research on Labour and Employment, University of California at Berkeley, USA

Dr Paolo de Renzio, Senior Research Fellow, International Budget Partnership, Research Associate, Global Economic Governance Programme, University of Oxford, UK

Prof Colin Richardson, Adjunct Professor of Economics Centre for International Security Studies, University of Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Christopher Ritson, Professor Emeritus, Trustee Director of the Food Ethics Council and Professor of Agricultural Marketing, Newscastle University Agricultural Building, UK

Prof Michael T. Rock, Samuel and Etta Wexler Professor of Economic History, Bryn Mawr College, USA

Dr Leopoldo Rodriguez, Associate Professor in International Development Studies, Portland State University, USA

Prof Alessandro Roncaglia, Professor of Economics, Sapienza University of Rome, ITALY

Prof Sergio Rossi, Professor of Economics, University of Fribourg, SWITZERLAND

Prof Roy J. Rotheim, Professor of Economics, Skidmore College, New York, US

Dr B. P. Syam Roy, IAS (Retd), West Bengal, INDIA

Prof Guillermo Rozenwurcel, Director of IDEAS Centre, San Martin National University, ARGENTINA

Dr Kobil Ruziev, Lecturer in Economics, Programme Director MSc Banking and Financial Regulation, School of Management and Business Aberystywth University, UK

Muhammad Sabir, Principal Economist, Social Policy and Development Centre, PAKISTAN

Dr Peter Sai-Wing Ho, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Denver, USA

Prof Wiemer Salverda, Director of AIAS, and special Chair Labour Market and Inequality, University of Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

Dr Wiemer Salverda, General Director of AIAS, and special Chair Labour Market and Inequality, University of Amsterdam, NETHERLANDS

Dr Diego Sanchez-Ancochea, University Lecturer in the Political Economy of Latin America, University of Oxford, UK

Dr Sankersan Sarkar, Assistant Professor of Finance, NIIT University, Rajasthan, INDIA

Prof Rubens R. Sawaya, Professor of Economics, Sao Paul Catholic Pontificia University, BRAZIL

Prof Malcolm Sawyer, Professor of Economics, University of Leeds, UK

Dr Harwood D. Schaffer, Research Assistant Professor, Agricultural Policy Analysis Center, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, USA

Prof Hans Schenk, Chaired Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Utrecht University, NETHERLANDS

Dr Ted P. Schmidt, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance SUNY, USA

 Karin Schoenpflug, Economist, Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Vienna, AUSTRIA

Dr Evert Schoorl, Economist and Director of graduate studies, Groningen University, NETHERLANDS

Dr Juliet Schor, Phd Economics, Boston College, USA

Dr Molly Scott Cato, Reader in Green Economics, Cardiff School of Management, UK

Prof Mario Seccareccia, Department of Economics, University of Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA

Prof Stephanie Seguino, Department of Economics, University of Vermont, USA

Professor Sunanda Sen, Visiting Professor, Jamia Millia Islamia University, New Delhi, INDIA

Dr Esther-Mirjam Sent, Professor of Economics at Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands and Member of the Senate of the Netherlands, NETHERLANDS

Prof Ardeshir Sepehri, Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba, CANADA

Dr John Serieux, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Manitoba, CANADA

Prof Mark Setterfield, Professor of Economics and Chair Department of Economics, Trinity Colelge, Hartford, USA

Prof Anwar Shaikh, Professor of Economics, New School of Social Research, New York, USA

Reader Benjamin Shepherd, Food Security in Asia Program, Centre for International Security Studies, University of Sydney, AUSTRALIA

Prof Tokutaro, Shibata, Professor of Economics, University of Tokyo, JAPAN

Sabira Ahamed Shine, Research Associate, ICSSR Research Project, School of Management Studies, Cocin University of Science and Technology, INDIA

Dr Chen Shuoying, Assistant Professor, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, CHINA

Dr Kalim Siddiqui, Senior Lecturer in International Economics, Business School, University of Huddersfield, UK

Prof Francesco Silva, Professor of Economics, Milano-Bicocca University, ITALY

Prof Maria Luiza Falcão Silva, Professor of Economics, University of Brasilia, BRAZIL

Dr John Simister, Department of Economics, SOAS, University of London, UK

Dr John Simister, Senior teaching fellow, Economics department, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Dr Pritam Singh, Reader in Economics, Oxford Brookes University, UK

Prof Anna Soci, Professor of Economics at the University of Bologna, ITALY

Prof Funmi Soetan, Professor of Economics and Director at Center for Gender and Social Policy Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, NIGERIA

Dr Stefano Solari, Associate Professor of Political Economy, Padova University, ITALY

Dr  Somannavar, Department of Economics, KLE Society's Lingaraj College, Karnataka, INDIA

Prof Cem Somel, Professor of Economics, Abant Izzet Baysal University, TURKEY

Dr Godwin Sree Kulakkal, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Government College for Women, Kerala, INDIA

Prof Ravi S. Srivastava, Professor of Economics, Centre for the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, INDIA

Dr Eduardo Stachman, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Sao Paul State University, BRAZIL

Prof Howard Stein, Professor of Development Economics, Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, USA

Prof Engelbert Stockhammer, Professor of Economics, Kingston University, UK

Dr Servaas Storm, Department of Economics of Innovation, Delft University of Technology, Delft, NETHERLANDS

Dr Eduardo Strachman, Assistant Professor of Economics, Sao Paulo State University, BRAZIL

 Larry D. Su, Senior Lecturer, School of Business, University of Greenwich, UK

Dr David Sunderland, Reader and Principal Lecturer, University of Greenwich, UK

Prof Madhura Swaminathan, Indian Statistical Institute, INDIA

Dr Valeria Szekeres, Associate Professor of Economics, Obuda University, Budapest, HUNGARY

Dr Szabolcs Szikszai, Senior Lecturer in Finance and Economics, University of Pannonia, HUNGARY

Prof Giulio Tagliavini, Professor of Business Finance, Parma University, ITALY

Prof Haruhito Takeda, Economic Historian, Faculty of Economics, Tokyo University, Japan

Dr John M. Talbot, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work University of the West Indies, JAMAICA

Dr Jeff Tan, Assistant Professor of Development Studies, Aga Khan University, UK

 

Prof Ke Tang, Hanqing Advanced Institute of Economics and Finance and School of Finance,  Renmin University of China, CHINA

Dr Pavlina R. Tcherneva, Assistant Professor of Economics, Franklin and Marshall College, USA

Dr Khemarat T. Teerasuwannajak, Department of Economics, Chulalongkorn University, THAILAND

 

Bilge Terzioglu, Department of Economics, Isik University, Istanbul, TURKEY

Dr Jose Rafael Tesoro, Lecturer in Economics, University of Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA

Mr Albin Thaarcis, Assistant Professor of Economics, St Xavier’s College, INDIA

Dr Frank Thompson, Lecturer in Economics, Residential College, University of Michigan, USA

Prof Mario Tiberi, Professor of Political Economy, Sapienza, University of Rome, ITALY

Dr Gunther Tichy, Austrian Institute of Economic Research, AUSTRIA

Prof Chris Tilly, Professor of Urban planning and sociology and Director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment UCLA, Los Angeles, USA

Dr Zdravka Todorova, Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, Raj Soin College of Business, Wright State University, Ohio, USA

Prof Mario Tonveronachi, Professor of Financial Systems, University of Siena, ITALY

Prof Jan Toporowski, Professor of Economics and Finance, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Prof Mariano Torras, Professor of Economics, Adelphi University, USA

Dr Andres Torres, Distinguished Lecturer, Department of Latin American and Puerto Rican Studies, Lehman College/CUNY, New York, USA

Dr Oscar Ugarteche, Institute of Economic Investigations, UNAM, Ciudad University, MEXICO,

Dr Mehmet Ugur, Reader in Political Economy, International Business and Economics, University of Greenwich Business School, UK

Prof Vittorio Valli, Professor of Economic Policy, Turin University, ITALY

Prof Rolph van der Hoeven, Professor of Employment and Development Economics, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Erasmus University, NETHERLANDS

Prof Irene van Staveren, Professor of Pluralist Development Economics, ISS, Erasmus University Rotterdam, NETHERLANDS

Dr Elisa Van Waeyenberge, Lecturer in Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Roberto Veneziani, Senior Lecturer, School of Economics and Finance, Queen Mary University of London, UK

Dr Matías Vernengo, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Utah, USA

Dr Rudi von Arnim, Assistant Professor of Economics, University of Utah, USA

Andrew Watt, Senior Researcher in Economics, European Trade Union Institute

Prof John Weeks, Professor Emeritus of Economics, School of Oriental and African Studies, UK

Dr Scott A. Weir, Wake Technical Community College, Raleigh, NC, USA

Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of Center for Economic and Policy Research, Washington, USA

Prof Thomas E. Weisskopf, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Michigan, USA

Prof Philip B. Whyman, Director, Lancashire Institute for Economic and Business Research, University of Central Lancashire, UK

Dr Jeannette Wicks-Lim, Assistant Research Professor, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA

Prof Rorden Wilkinson, Professor of International Political Economy, School of Social Sciences and Research Director, Brooks World Poverty Institute, University of Manchester, UK

Timothy A. Wise, Director, Research and Policy Program, Global Development and Environment Institute, Tufts University, Medford, USA

Dr Martin Wolfson, Associate Professor of Economics, University of Notre Dame, USA

Prof Enrico Wolleb, Director ISMERI EUROPA, Roma, ITALY

Dr Andrew Wood, Reader in Finance, Essex Business School, University of Essex, UK

Prof Chenggang Xu, Quoin Professor in Economic Development, University of Hong Kong, HONG KONG

Prof Mo Yamin, Professor of International Business, Manchester Business School, UK

Dr Yavuz Yasar, Associate Professor, Department of Economics, University of Denver, USA

Prof Erhan Yildirim, Department of Economics, Cukurova University, Adana, TURKEY

Prof Brigitte Young, Institute for Political Science, University of Muenster, GERMANY

Dr Elizabeth Young, Lecturer in Food and Agriculture, University of Staffordshire, UK

Dr June Zaccone, Associate Professor of Economics (Emerita), Hofstra University Hempstead, New York, USA

Prof Angelika Zahrnt, Professor of Economics, Bund fur Umwelt und Naturschutz, GERMANY

Nimrod Zalk, Deputy Director-General, Industrial Development Division, Department of Trade and Industry, SOUTH AFRICA

Dr Luisa Zanchi, Lecturer in Economics, University of Leeds, UK

Barclays: profiting from hunger

 

Stop Barclays betting on hunger

Barclays is the UK’s biggest player in food speculation. Despite closing parts of its agricultural commodity trading business, Barclays continues to play a role driving up food prices and leaving millions facing hunger and malnutrition.

On 12 February 2013, after three years of public campaigning by WDM that called on the bank to stop betting on hunger, Barclays announced it would no longer trade in agricultural commodities “for speculative purposes”, saying that the practice was “not compatible with our purpose”. This was a campaign success worth celebrating.

However, despite ending its controversial speculative deals with hedge funds, Barclays continues to offer opportunities for others to speculate on food. It remains the biggest UK high street player in food speculation and will retain a role as a broker for pension funds and large traders such as Cargill and Glencore to bet on the price of food.

We estimate that Barclays made up to £278 million in food speculation in 2012. 

Top UK player in food speculation

  • Although Barclays has ceased some agricultural commodity trading, it still has an established reputation in the UK commodity market. Barclays is known in the financial industry for developing products which facilitate other financial players like pension funds to bet on food prices. In this way it plays a key role in opening the door for others to flood these markets with speculative money, driving up prices.
  • Barclays is still a leading player in speculation on other commodities, including oil which can drive up oil prices. Since oil is a key input in agricultural production, higher oil prices means higher costs of production and therefore higher food prices.

Banks can’t be trusted

Barclays has admitted that they have reduced their involvement in food speculation because it was believed to be a potential cause of food price inflation. 

Other investment banks across Europe are making similar admissions. This strengthens the hand of those calling for regulation. 

However, such commitments from banks can be short lived. In 2012, Major Germany food speculator Deutsche Bank said it would not release new financial products enabling food speculation. However, in January 2013 it announced that it would be returning to the market, claiming that there was little evidence to support the idea that speculation affected food prices. This was despite its own research admitting a link between speculation and price volatility.

This example illustrates the need for firm regulation in Europe. With so many people vulnerable to world food price spikes, it is clear that individual banks cannot be trusted to stop speculating on their own. 

Take action to regulate food speculation

Infographic - How banks cause hunger

Food speculation - banks betting on food prices in financial markets - is a massive issue facing the world today. In the last few years, we have seen two major food price spikes, pushing millions of people into poverty. These food spikes were caused by speculation and could have been prevented through effective regulation. 

At the World Development Movement we are campaigning to stop banks betting on food and causing hunger. To explain the issue we have produced this infographic. Hope you like it. Please let us know what you think in the comments. 

For more information about how financial speculation impacts on food prices, see our Broken markets report

[Click on the image to enlarge it]

Infographic showing how banks cause hunger 

Update 5 October 2011: We have corrected the aid figures and their size relative to banks’ profits from food speculation; they now reflect the latest information.

Local activists taking action on food speculation

Bexhill and Hastings WDM play a game of 'Human Blackjack' with George Osborne showing how the government's allowing bankers to keep betting on food.

Bexhill group members sit at a casino table playing blackjack with someone dressed as George Osborne. Piles of sacks of food with a plackard saying "Stop bankers betting on food" sit in the background

Brighton & Hove WDM explaining the complexities of food speculation to passers-by in Brighton, using a giant snakes and ladders' board

Brighton & Hove WDM

Brighton & Hove WDM

Sheffield WDM created an ingenious 'plate-spinning' game at a recent event to involve people in our food campaign

WDM Sheffield

WDM Sheffield plate spinning

 

Food sovereignty protest: photo gallery

On Saturday 8 June protests were held in support of food sovereignty, rather than David Cameron and the G8's preferred approach. Known as the “New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition”, it will see aid money support big business, and developing countries forced to implement policies which will exacerbate rather than reduce hunger. Here are some photos from the protests. 

Find out more about the background to the protests in our blog.

 

 

Gambling on life in East Africa

We are lobbying the UK government to demand tighter regulation of commodity speculation, which our report The Great Hunger Lottery reveals creates market volatility and sharp rises in the price of basic food commodities.

Maize, the staple food in Kenya, is gambled on in global commodity markets. In 2008, maize was subject to a 100% cost increase, which meant that many of the poorest people in Kenya went hungry, lost their livelihoods and suffered health problems.

In July 2010 some of our staff went to Kenya to speak to people about the effects of the food price rises. Here are some of their stories.

MiFID timeline

If...

A new campaign If… on hunger and food security has launched, run by a group of development organisations. WDM has decided not to join this campaign.

WDM campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty and injustice. Our current campaign on food goes to the heart of one of the problems with our food system: the power of the financial sector and the role of commodity speculation in causing food price spikes. We are also actively engaging with and contributing to a long term vision and solution – food sovereignty – guided by our allies in the global south.

As a small organisation, we do not have any additional campaign capacity to contribute to a food campaign with a different focus. The If... campaign is concerned with food security - ensuring people have enough to eat. However it will not be challenging the power and impact of the financial system on food prices, nor is it grounded in the principles of food sovereignty. WDM believes that these principles, which are about power, control and rights, must underpin future changes to our food systems.

We welcome many of the campaign demands in the If... campaign - for example those around tax havens, biofuels and landgrabbing. We encourage WDM members and supporters to take action on these and other structural problems with the food system.

You can read more detail about this in this blog written by our Director Deborah Doane published on the Guardian website.