I read an interesting article today which claims that Goldman Sachs was responsible for the famine in Ethiopia. I am flabbergasted that this bank would sink so low as this. These are the same people in charge of America, telling Obama what he can and cannot do. How sick do they have to be before people wake up to what is actually happening in their name . This is disaster capitalism at its worst. How they can sit round their dinner tables and eat sumptuous meals, wear golden trinkets, dress in the finest of clothes, have their yachts, cars and mansions knowing that children in Africa paid the ultimate price for those riches, by their lives, slowly starving to death while the aristocracy drank champagne. Those rich preachers who sponge off the poor to live in luxury, by promising a life here after, if there was a God he would strike them down dead, for robbing the poor. I am very angry after reading this article, if I could I would post it on here to let you read for yourself the vile people we are dealing with. However, you can read it for yourself it is in the Independent newspaper by Johann Hari I recommend that you read it.

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Comment by Alex Catgirl on July 8, 2010 at 9:28am
Hari obviously doesn't know the difference between a derivative, and a future. You can't securitize agriculture contracts like you can with mortgages as somebody(one entity) has to take delivery. If a contract comes due, it's not unusual for a holder to get a call from the farmer asking where do they wish their xxx,xxx bushels of corn or wheat. If they are in no position to take delivery(as they do not have silos), they have to pay storage fees to somebody, and those commodities have a shelf-life. It's a big part of the reason as to why most people do not invest in the commodities market. It's more complicated than that, there are options on futures, which are always worth more than the future(the physical thing) themselves, and how margin/leverageing works, but there are books and websites that describe those mechanism in great detail...That Mr. Hari obviously didn't bother reading.

As for supply and demand, Farmer Gill sells a contract for a portion of his harvest for £10,000, the process of investors trading it between themselves is called PRICE DISCOVERY.

I don't trade agriculture futures, I trade crude, which works in a very similar fashion. When I got in 2007 Jan, oil was trading at ~50/barrel, I KNEW that it was worth much more than that, my target was $125/barrel.

That was my investment thesis, I knew that your average idiot would cut back on things like food/entertainment/housing before giving up their oil-bloated lifestyle, so I joined the ranks of oil "speculators" and drove the price up to $137/Barrel, when the press and governments began threatening investigations I bailed.

Was I wrong? If anything the markets proved my thesis correct, the price of oil could rise to $125/barrel and it will have no effect on demeand, the only difference being who pocketed the money. Petroleum supplier and traders became significantly wealthier, while retail consumers - the idiots filling up their SUVs with 4.25USD/Gallon gasoline, became poorer. Proving yet again that a fool and their money are soon parted.
Comment by david hartley on July 8, 2010 at 5:08am
Without getting into later developments such as derivitives etc you may find this youtube video about the basis of the monetary system useful.
It is a little 'conspiracy theorist' but as that is your point Patricia it may help explain some of the underpinnings of the whole financial system. I have put the link up for the first segment and there are a number of them or you will be able to link to the full movie from here. At the very least it begins to explain the complexities of the system we have and although it may shock you it will exemplify the iniquities you speak of but also perhaps why we can't just throw our hands up and say 'if we stop this or that action' everything will be hunkey dorey. Change will take time and as some of the other posters have made the point that it's not only us that must look in the mirror but the Ethiopians themselves.
It is about power and greed but our expectations are the fuel.
Comment by Patricia Plunkett on July 8, 2010 at 2:28am
Alex Catgirl,
Yes the Ethiopians are to blame by not using birth control, doesn't mean we turn a blind eye to there situation. Education is the answer and as far as I know it is being done by many organisations from countries all over the world. The interference by religious leaders is holding back this education by making contraception a "sin". Same with aids, two wrongs do not make a right. To manipulate markets for profit at the cost of lives is wrong.
Comment by Patricia Plunkett on July 8, 2010 at 1:34am
"A cheap Propaganda Ploy" It is also termed as making people aware. So we aren't supposed to complain about anything just let it carry on regardless. Somebody at Goldman Sachs new exactly what their manipulation of the market would do, yes they murdered millions by doing it, but they didn't see or care, they only saw the the profit margins. I have no shares in any company and I would if I had the money to invest seek out a more ethically based company to do it with. And yes I am angry that so much of BP's investments are tied up in pension funds because as has been done so often in the past those relying on their pension fund to see them through their later years won't get a penny. By the time they pay for the mess in the Gulf, which they caused, there won't be enough left for the pensioners. This is the kind of thing that big corporations do and is the reason that they should be stopped. I don't own anything and I am happy. I am not painting any sort of picture false or other wise, they live lives of prosperity by exploiting poverty to make their money, there is and always has been a "them and us" whether it has been classed based or money based, it has got wider and has grown with the introduction of the Free Market. Aye I am a Scot, love my country warts and all what shames me is that some of my fellow Scots are just as bad as the Goldman Sachs, BP, RBS and other big corp companies at stealing from the poor to make themselves rich and their investors. It is always the poor who are victims and end up paying the price for the gamblers in stock markets. "I live in Florida in the US" you should be villifying BP, they knew before they started the first drilling programme the outcome of their drilling in that area. BBC news knew also but sat back on the information. Now many sea creatures who have no voice are being murdered, they have just slapped another ban on the reporting teams and been given carte blanche control. Will you complain when the people earning a decent living off the products from the sea no longer can ? What I am saying to you is quite clear, we all must make our voices heard change our current lifestyle drastically, we can no longer sit back and say nothing, but pessimistic views and such apathetic views also are letting it all happen, there are more of us than there are of them, it's about time we made a stand. So I will continue villifying corporations and people like you it is also my right to do so.
Comment by ryan cameron on July 7, 2010 at 10:46pm
its a lot easier to blame a corporation than to change your personal habits and try to influence others to do the same. I'm as guilty as any corporation for buying goods at far below what I should be paying, not voting intelligently when elections come around, and not being inquisitive enough about the ramifications of all my decisions. I do think, however, if we simply sit around pointing fingers instead of using them to do something practical as individuals, we'll continue with status quo of haves and have nots.
Comment by Alex Catgirl on July 7, 2010 at 10:57am
For one thing perishables are traded on the FUTURES, not derivative markets, they are two very different things.

You can not create a derivative on perishables, there are too many independent variables....er well you can create a derivative for just about anything, but nobody with an inkling of understanding would buy them.

And yes , manipulating any market causes it to fluctuate wildly as it attempts to re-establish some sort of equilibrium, such is the nature of complex systems.

As for your why are some crops traded on the open market and not others? Um preference? People prefer rice, wheat, corn, soy over say milt, as the market for preferred crops is both larger and broader than non-preferred crops, it makes sense to trade them on the global market rather than in local farmer's markets as you are probably going to get a better price as the shortages and surplus of the local markets cancel each other out.
Comment by Alex Catgirl on July 7, 2010 at 9:58am
Oh please Patricia, if I had to choose one group of people for Ethiopia's misery, it would be the Ethiopians themselves. Why is it that Ethiopians are ALWAYS starving, they have been suffering famine after famine and famine for the last 500 years(look it up).

Why *that* group of people? Well for one, the Ethiopians have never stored surpluses, they live live harvest to harvest, always have, that's their culture. The reason why some societies prosper and other do do not is because of cultural decisions like this.

But it doesn't stop there

The year 1985 is significant, that was the "Mega-Drought" that caught the world's attention, and aid started pouring in, what happened to the population? It exploded, note that the growth curve becomes sharper after 1985. The MORONS doubled their population in 25 years totally oblivious to the fact that their lands could not sustain the 41M people they had a generation ago, as matter of fact, because of their excessive breeding, Ethopia is experiencing massive desertification, so their country may in limited to supporting <25M people.

What? The rest of the world is going to subsidize Ethiopia's food and water for the rest of eternity so they can continue to breed like bacteria? Is there an unlimited supply of natural resources somewhere I do not know about? If not, how is the status quo in any way logical?

As Ethiopia is dependant on charity and good will for it's survival, they will always experience a disproportionate amount of suffering if and when some the global price of foodstuffs goes up, the solution to their problem is not to punish those who profit from the rise in prices, but rather to STOP BREEDING until such a time when their population is back in balance with what their lands can sustain.
Comment by Patricia Plunkett on July 7, 2010 at 8:27am
Vespertillo, All I can say is thank goodness all the world doesn't believe your negative views. There are many millions of people, who are disgusted with the way things are going and willing to stand firmly against it. 'Spare me the preaching ?' Me preach ?Have you read the articles on this thread ? Or are you so negative that you are only interested in your own opinion, it is because of people like you that this has got so far, by the way I do live a simple life and enjoy it. Don't crave after luxuries, I am neither a buddhist monk or a christian monk, I make ends meet on a regular basis. Your argument has no connection to the Ethiopian scandal either I see do you also approve of that ? Give me peace, It is none of your business where I get my money from, I do my bit for the planet by recycling every thing, clothes included. I find your comment offensive to say the least so unless you can develop a more positive attitude don't bother making comments.
Comment by Patricia Plunkett on July 6, 2010 at 11:53am
Thank you both Alex Catgirl and Felch, for helping me out.'Doesn't that make the primitive peoples of the earth more "evil". No it doesn't. What Goldman Sachs did was calculated murder, they knew what they were doing unfortunately the primitive peoples don't. Yes I am aware of the manipulation of commodity prices and the subsidies, doesn't mean to say I agree with them. Whenever a farm here closes the bigger conglomerates move in and take over the farms. Doesn't make it right there either. Farms across the world are being used to build housing estates instead of growing crops. It all depends what view you take on anything. I am angry that the people of Ethiopia died because of speculation on the market, in fact I am angry at the way these free-markets are taking over our world governments, having too much say in the running of governments, ruining democracy without being restricted. Too many people have died to make profits for big corporations for this to be in any way respectable. Now, you can hammer me with facts and figures who's to blame and who isn't it will only drive me further towards exposing disaster capitalism wherever I see it. The time for the big profit makers and free- [flea] marketeers to butt out of our society they are heartless bastards and deserve no place in our world. I want to see human rights adhered to if this upsets you then I am afraid I do not care. Ethiopia upset me and should upset any normal human being, happy with their lot not wanting to be part of the rat race that is capitalism. I am not here to argue, what Goldman Sachs did was wrong and they have the blood of many Ethiopians on their hands any decent individual would agree.
Comment by Alex Catgirl on July 6, 2010 at 10:45am
You are the second person to mention Hari's very simplistic piece about the evil investment houses engaging in commodity price manipulation. I mentioned how third world farmers also benefited from the higher prices in my last response, so I mention a different facet of the issue this time.

You do realize that governments are the number one manipulators of commodity prices don't you? Farmers in most places don't make their money by selling their crops/livestock, they make their money via government subsidies.

Governments do this not only to keep people from starving to death, but if food prices are artificially low, the masses are wealthier - they have money to spend on other things - like over-priced homes, which is how the government makes money, via taxes, and individual politicians hold on to power.

It's been the case for about a century in all parts of the world, farming is a very hard way to make a living, and farmers are rarely prosperous, so they abandon the small farms and move into the cities...where does that leave the politicians and other tradesmen who were dependant on the farmers? Hmm hmm, they lose everything.

Now skip forward to 2007, because of the irrational exuberance in the markets, Goldman et al found themselves sitting on huge piles of cash and nowhere to put it. Most likely some, low-level analyst looked around and said, gee, the commodity markets have been depressed for a couple decades, why don't we put our money their?

Like governments, big institutions can manipulate the markets when they move massive amounts of money around. In effect, Goldman told the markets, Corn should be selling at 4 USD/Bushel, not 2 USD/Bushel,yes it really was that bad in the beginning, and they bought a whole lot of corn.

Does that make Goldman "Evil"? If you were in a position to set the price of things, wouldn't you do the same? $2/Bushel is ridiculous low, it's not possible to produce a bushel of corn for that.

Of course that has consequences, it going to price that commodity out of many people's reach, but shouldn't of they taken responsibility for their excessive breeding? The masses are morons, their thinking limited to eat-breed, left to their own devices, they would eat-breed the entire ecosystem out of existence, just as they did on a much smaller scale in Easter Island, or present day Haiti, there are very few trees in Haiti as the masses clear-cut everything faster than nature can replenish them in a feeble attempt to survive, they do the same thing with the coastal fisheries as well, fish with dynamite....like that doesn't have environmental consequences.

Doesn't that make the primitive peoples of the earth even more "evil" than commodity price manipulators?



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