Inflation, stagnation and speculation

Posted on November 8, 2012 by | 2 Comments

What happens if you cross the scandal of food speculation with the stars of BBC3’s The revolution will be televised?

In the unlikely event that you were wondering, the result was launched last week by the World Development Movement.

With George Osborne and other European finance ministers due to vote on new legislation to curb food speculation, we wanted to find a way of letting people know what’s at stake – and to make sure the UK government feels the heat.

Since deregulation in 2000, banks and hedge funds have been allowed to speculate on food prices, leading to distortions and price spikes like those witnessed in 2008 and again in 2011. These mean bigger grocery bills for everyone – but the impacts are felt most acutely by those on the lowest incomes, both here and in the global south.

One of the worst culprits is Barclays – we estimate the bank made up to half a billion from speculating on food in 2010 and 2011.

In the film, Jolyon Rubinstein and Heydon Prowse pose as Barclays bankers attempting to sell spoof investment products to unsuspecting passers-by, with “profit margins so ridiculous, it’s almost criminal”. The ‘bankers’ reveal to their potential customers that their investments will force people to go hungry, but reassure them, “Those people are in a place you’re never going to go to”.

The three-minute film culminates with Jolyon Rubinstein being escorted out of a Barclays branch by armed police after pouring corn all over the bank’s floor. But Jolyon reported: “The police cottoned on that we were from the TV show. They seemed sympathetic as to why we felt it necessary to highlight just how much money Barclays is making through food speculation by pouring corn all over the bank’s floor.”

Five years after the financial crisis, bankers continue to treat the real world as their playground. The chance to limit food speculation provides a rare opportunity to curb some of their excesses. Watch the video now and take action at www.wdm.org.uk/barclays.

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Comments

2 Responses to “Inflation, stagnation and speculation”

  1. Phil HuntNo Gravatar
    November 9th, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    > Since deregulation in 2000, banks and hedge funds have been allowed to speculate on food prices, leading to distortions and price spikes like those witnessed in 2008 and again in 2011.

    If I was speculating on a commodity, I would want to buy when it is cheap and sell when it is expensive. This would tend to damp changes in price, not exaggerate them.

    Please explain whey you believe that spculation leads to price spikes.

  2. DaveNo Gravatar
    November 11th, 2012 @ 10:45 am

    Hi Phil, I’m no expert but I will try and explain my understanding of how speculation leads to price spikes.

    I think the problem is that speculators don’t buy when it is cheap and sell when it is expensive. Instead they buy when they think the price will rise and sell when they think it will fall. This leads to price bubbles, as people try to cash in on a rising price index.

    Also, the market is dominated by speculators, who have no interest in actually trading a commodity. Because they profit when the price goes up, it is in their interest to make the price go up. And so it does.

    The World Development Movement seems to have lots more information on this at their website:
    http://www.wdm.org.uk/food-speculation

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