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Price speculation impacting food supplies

The Guardian has a story in which head of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Joachim von Braun, says tighter regulation is needed to ensure speculators don’t cause an artificial demand in global food markets.

He says if regulation is not tightened, prices would increase excessively and the risk of malnutrition would increase.

He was one of the first to predict the sharp rise in food prices, which has seen protests in Italy, Mexico and India, as well as the number of starving people rise from about 800 million to more than 1 billion:

The world food market is still “seriously exposed” to speculators artificially driving up prices and worsening the risks of malnutrition, according to one of the world’s leading agricultural researchers.

Linking the recent food and financial crises, Joachim von Braun, the head of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), warned that the world was at risk of a new panic over grain unless commodity markets were more tightly regulated and production expanded.

“The banking sector is in the process of being re-regulated worldwide, but the food market remains seriously exposed to short-term flows of indexed funds into commodity exchanges. That vulnerability needs to be addressed,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. READ MORE.

Speculators accounted for 71% of oil contracts of the NYMEX

Reuters have obtained statistics from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which shows that speculators accounted for 71% of the benchmark oil contracts on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), the world’s largest for energy trading, as of April 2008.

The story also looks at what impact the proposed regulation by CFTC chairman Gary Gensler could have on big players like Goldman Sachs, which has made a killing from speculating on oil trading:

Fewer than one out of every 10 barrels of oil traded on U.S. futures exchanges gets delivered to consumers, an equation that may change under sweeping new restrictions being weighed by the government’s top commodities regulator.

With plans to curb speculation in energy trading, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission chairman Gary Gensler could push banks and funds, which now buy and sell the lion’s share of oil and gas contracts, to seek opportunities elsewhere, industry watchers say. READ HERE

Goldman Sachs speak out on proposed CFTC regulation

Reuters has a story in which Goldman Sachs chief financial officer David Viniar says the bank’s energy trading is hedging and should be exempt from proposed U.S. government limits on the volume of contracts that speculators can trade. READ HERE