A Especulação com Alimentos e o Aumento da Fome no Mundo
De acordo com dados da própria FAO, o avanço dos agentes financeiros sobre o mercado futuro de alimentos tem contribuído para a escalada da volatilidade de preços e do consequente aumento na quantidade de pessoas famintas no mundo. As análises mais recentes apontam que os preços do alimentos no mercado global estão 50% mais elevados do que um ano atrás. Aumentos similares foram observados após a crise 2008. A consequência imediata foi o acréscimo de 130 milhões de faminto nos países em desenvolvimento. A especulação dos agentes financeiros decorre da crise de sobre-acumulação de capital nos países avançados, em especial nos EUA, que não encontram rentabilidade em atividades produtivas. Com o excesso de liquidez e a escassez de fontes rentáveis para aplicação, os agentes encontraram na especulação via mercados futuros uma forma alternativa de garantir a lucratividade. O problema é que o custo recai sobre as populações mais pobres do mundo.
Os estudos da FAO e da UNCTAD que revelam os números do problema são:
- FAO, IFAD, IMF, OECD, UNCTAD, WFP, the World Bank, the WTO, IFPRI and the UN HLTF (2011) Price Volatility in Food and Agricultural Markets: Policy Responses.
- High Level Panel of Experts on food security, FAO Committee on World Food Security (2011) Price volatility and food security.
- UNCTAD (2011) Price formation in financialized commodity markets: the role of information.
- UNCTAD (2008) Trade and development report. Chapter II: Commodity price hikes and instability.
Dear G20 Finance Ministers,
We write to you to urge you to commit with your counterparts to take effective action to curb excessive speculation on food commodities. Excessive financial speculation is contributing to increasing volatility and record food prices, exacerbating global hunger and poverty.
While there are many pressures on food prices, fundamental changes in supply and demand cannot fully account for the dramatic price fluctuations that have occurred in recent years. In June, a report for the G20 by international organisations including the IMF and the OECD noted that “too much speculation can cause frequent and erratic price changes” in futures markets. It would appear that the enormous increase in commodity speculation since 2003 is unnecessary to meet hedging demand or promote pricing efficiency. In fact, excessive speculation undermines the price discovery function of futures markets, driving key commodity prices away from levels determined by supply and demand.
Evidence from the UN Conference on Trade and Development suggests that financial speculators are less likely to base trading decisions on information regarding supply and demand and are more prone to herding behaviours than commercial traders. The High Level Panel of Experts on food security for the Committee on World Food Security at the FAO reported in July that “tighter regulation of speculation is necessary.” The panel suggested that “Increasing transparency, by requiring exchange trading and clearing of most agricultural commodity contracts, and setting lower limits for noncommercial actors could be the first set of measures taken by the countries that house major commodity exchanges.”
Given the volume of off-exchange trading and the lack of public reporting from some commodity exchanges, increasing market transparency is vital, but will not go far enough to tackle excessive financial speculation. We therefore urge you to support the establishment of position limits to cap the proportion of agricultural commodity derivatives markets that can be held by financial speculators. Limits could be set at a level that would maintain sufficient liquidity in the markets while preventing an excessive concentration of purely financial actors. The US has already passed legislation including provisions to introduce such limits and the G20 should act to prevent regulatory arbitrage between exchanges. Position limits would be more effective in tackling excessive speculation than position management powers, which rely on the use of judgement by exchanges and provide little assurance that powers will be exercised effectively. Clear limits would provide regulatory certainty, promoting stable and sustainable derivatives markets to the benefit of food producers, consumers and broader economic stability.
With around 1 billion people enduring chronic hunger worldwide, action is urgently needed to curb excessive speculation and its effects on global food prices.
Tom Pursey (World Development Movement staff, http://www.wdm.org.uk/food-speculation)