Friday, March 20, 2009

The Speculators

“The hedge fund managers made money from investing in overseas stock markets and betting that prices of oil, wheat and other commodities would rise.” (Daily Mail U.K. April 16, 2008)

We are seeing the “rise” and the continued rising of food prices, oil prices and other commodities. The people hardest hit are in the poorer countries of the world - though poor people and the middle class in the so-called rich countries are also feeling the pinch. But, there is a certain class of people who are profiting from the misfortunes of the majority. These people are the speculators who feed off the labor of ordinary people. While many people labor by the sweat of their brow, these speculators “labor” from computer terminals, cell phones, and stock exchanges, “betting” on the very commodities that most people need to exist. They bet on the price of food and some are making massive profits off the hunger and starvation of people in third world countries. A hedge fund manager had this to say:
"Unfortunately, I think when people are trading commodities, I don't think they are even caring about social impact." (International Herald Tribune April 2, 2008 )

The “social impact” on the world by some of these paper shufflers is getting worse by the day. These financial vultures are somehow hailed as “successful money managers.” Yet, according to some reports these managers are responsible for deaths and famine in some countries. “Hedge funds played their part in the violent rise in spot prices early this year. To that extent they can be held responsible for the death of African and Asian children…” (Daily Telegraph U. K. April 14, 2008).

What kind of persons would take and make profits off the “death” of innocent children? Surely these people must know that their manipulation and speculation on the necessities of life for all people would result in misery and deprivation for many people. These “people” speculators are making a killing - no pun intended - in the “market” while some people are being killed off by their “market success.” And this is “legal”? Oh, I forgot this is “free enterprise" at "work!"

This kind of “work” was criticized by one principled businessman. An article in the Times U.K. of March 12, 2008 had this to say:
“The managing director of Greggs, the high street baker, has attacked speculators for driving up the price of wheat and fuelling famine in Africa. Sir Michael Darrington, who yesterday announced that he would be stepping down after 24 years in charge, said commodity traders were more to blame for spiralling food price inflation…”

Inflated prices are affecting us all. We are seeing the result when we fill our car with gas. When we go to the grocery store, we see the cost of food rising. Most people work hard for their money and they see its purchasing power depreciating. Meanwhile, many of the speculators “investing” in the “commodities markets” are seeing their profits appreciating. This is done by manipulating the markets. The Telegraph U.K. newspaper of April 17, 2008, said this “…hedge funds pour money into commodity futures as a way to exploit the collapse of the dollar.” And the Economic Times of India, April 6, 2008, stated: “Large global hedge and index funds are continuously pulling up agricultural futures in the hope of a killing in the coming months….These gold diggers need to [be] driven away before they destroy more lives through hunger and social unrest.”

There is already “social unrest” and riots in the poorer countries of the world over food prices. Some people are dying of starvation and hunger while speculators profit from their deaths. I believe it is time that those we elect to public office took action against these speculators. These manipulators of the “markets” need to be held accountable for their greed at the expense of the rest of humanity.

Stephen J. Gray
April 18, 2008.