The Financialisation of Food: Commodity Markets And Human Hunger

World food prices grew strongly from 2003, but fell sharply after the 2008 onset of the global financial crisis. Since then, however, prices have rebounded and by mid-2011 reached even higher levels. The World Bank estimates more than 40 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty as a result, while political pressures have been felt not only in the ‘Arab Spring’ countries but also across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. Alex Cobham is Chief Policy Adviser at Christian Aid, and was formerly a researcher and tutor in economics at the University of Oxford. Christian Aid works in more than 40 countries to support civil society organisations working against poverty, and at a global level seeks to challenge and change the structures and systems that cause and exacerbate poverty. Alex explores the role of commodity markets in distorting food prices. While short-termist financial ‘speculators’ are often blamed, it may be that large institutional investors like pension funds are inadvertently playing the key role.