"Fragile populations around the world, living on or near the poverty line, will be dragged under by price spikes and volatility," said Oxfam in a recent statement. "Nearly a billion people are already too poor to feed themselves, so any long-term food spike is guaranteed to trap millions more who are now just 'getting by'."
The World Development Movement report estimates that Barclays made as much as $840 million from its "food speculative activities" over the course of 2010 and 2011. Barclays made much more from food speculation in 2010, as the prices of agricultural commodities were rising, and a smaller sum in 2011 as prices fell.
As the Independent reported: "The extent of just one bank's involvement in agricultural markets will add to concerns that food speculation could help push basic prices so high that they trigger a wave of riots in the world's poorest countries, as staples drift out of their populations' reach."
Which Banks Are Involved:
"Barclays is the UK bank with the greatest involvement in food commodity trading and is one of the three biggest global players, along with the US banking giants Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley," reported the UK's Independent, citing research from the World Development Movement.
Christine Haigh, policy and campaigns officer at the WDM and one of the analysts behind the research, said the behavior of the banks "risks fuelling a speculative bubble and contributing to hunger and poverty for millions of the world's poorest people."