“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
“Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty,” so say 461 economists, from more than 40 countries. Commodity speculation is causing hunger and misery across the world. 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, and yet there it appears there is very little appetite, let alone will, to do anything about it. Consider this:
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. 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.
Today, the World Development Movement is launching an online campaign to get the government to tighten legislation and stop the obscene practices of the banks and ‘financial investors’ gambling on food prices.
What sort of country allows its banks to profit by creating poverty, misery and starvation and to pay bonuses to its employees for so doing? Britain does. Common decency requires action to be taken – and without delay.
Take a look at this light-hearted touch to a serious problem by The World Development Movement – created by Hoot Comedy. “The Real George Osborne” – this is the first of six episodes.