The world is in the midst of a second global food crisis in only three years, pushing prices up, adding to the ongoing protests in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East, as global food prices set a new record in January dues to large increases in the prices of corn, sugar grains and oil. Many argue there are direct links between Wall Street, the sale of food futures, and the printing of money by the Federal Reserve is printing leading to inflation worldwide.
“If the price of wheat went up in the past, people would sell at that point, Goldman would continue to buy.”
Skyrocketing food prices directly impact everyone on the planet, but have harsher affects of those in poorer regions where most of one’s income must be spend on food alone. As the recession and unemployment continue and the US wage gap in grows, many feel the food crisis in America could worsen, potentially bringing about civil unrest. And – as usual – the bankers at Goldman Sachs gets to play the scapegoat.
Frederick Kaufman, a contributing editor to Harper’s Magazine who has written extensively on the topic, is explains that market speculation has created a food bobble, forcing the crisis and starving millions.
In 1999 Kaufman accused Goldman Sacks of restructuring the commodities market by instituting speculation on food futures.
“This was a new kind of investment that was made for people that wanted to put a lot of money into commodities and just let it sit there for a long time and let it grow,” he says.
Previously commodities markets operated under a system of physical speculators and hedgers who operated based on seasons as food products changes.
However, Goldman Sacks created a structure where they continued to buy the product out of seas, based on futures as opposed to conditions.
“If the price of wheat went up in the past, people would sell at that point, Goldman would continue to buy,” Frederick says.
At first the system worked, but around 2003 to 2005 a great deal of money began to pump into the long term futures, which lead to speculators outnumbering physical speculators 4 to 1 in these markets, leading to skyrocketing prices, Russia Today reports.
The increase in 2008 sparked unrest in Haiti, Egypt and elsewhere, drawing many similarities to unrest that is ongoing currently in Egypt and maybe a piece to the overall puzzle.
There were regulations in place intended to prevent these issues from occurring, however during periods of deregulation of banks gained the ability to take huge stakes in commodities that was previously illegal.
“The markets are now being controlled by imaginary wheat; imaginary wheat being bought and sold by financial giants is controlling the price of real wheat,” Frederick explains.
“We are seeing issues in the world now where there are constraints on supply.”
Supply and demand issues, combined with the futures trading and a recession economy where investors are fleeing to save commodity investments to results are higher prices and scarcity.
The people of the world continue to suffer and the large banks and financial institutions win, he says.