Apparently those wicked speculators have been at it again. Not content with bringing the banking system down by sellling shares in banks that were just going through a slightly dificult time, they are now driving the price of wheat up so the poor starve. Cue Frau Merkel – time for the EU to regulate the grain dealers.
Most speculators are not immoral. They are amoral. They are making a living, providing a service. Farmers need wheat futures so they can speculate on when to sell their crop. They like rising prices as it helps them invest and develop their businesses and grow more grain in the future, as well as giving them a better income. Many of you will have shares in your pension funds and unit trusts that include shares in commodity companies that use wheat futures and other commodity derivatives to help them manage their businesses. You may even have investments that include commodity funds, savings schemes that are seeking to make money out of rising prices of food, energy, and metals. These are not immoral.
The grain price has been going up recently because Russia is having a poor harvest. It has gone up because Mr Putin has banned Russian exports. It has gone up because there are many more mouths to feed and the system allows little for harvest failure in the main grain baskets of the world.
These same amoral speculators who are currently being attacked for buying wheat have not yet had the praise surely they deserve for driving the price of oil down in recent months. As a result so the world’s poor can afford more energy. If they are to blame for things critics don’t like, shouldn’t they get credit for things that help?
A market is a mass of buyers and sellers. Each tries to make the right judgement for themselves or their organisation. Individual speculators do not seek to make the poor starve or go without heating. They seek to make money, and they may be working for you. Grain prices can only be carried upwards by speculators if the underlying market position between users and producers warrants it. If it doesn’t the market will soon adjust and the speculators will lose money. If there is a shortage of wheat then prices will rise. If they rise enough that will induce more supply, the ultimate answer to a food shortage anywhere in the world.
The reasons why some are facing dire conditons over food supply are many. That requires better government in their country, and more assistance in the meantime from outside sources. We should nto stand by and watch people starve, but we should not think we can solve their problem by regulating the speculators.