Investment in food commodities by banks and hedge funds has risen from $65bn to $126bn (£41bn to £79bn) in the past five years, helping to push prices to 30-year highs and causing sharp price fluctuations that have little to do with the actual supply of food, says the United Nations' leading expert on food.
Hedge funds, pension funds and investment banks such as Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and Barclays Capital now dominate the food commodities markets, dwarfing the amount traded by actual food producers and buyers.
Goldman Sachs alone has earned hundreds of millions of dollars in profits from food speculation.
Can you imagine what kind of mindset it takes to do this?
Can you imagine taking food out of the mouths of hungry families on the other side of the world so that you and your fellow employees can pad your bonus checks?
It really is disgusting.
But that is the way the game is played.
It is set up so that the big guy will win and the little guy will lose.
The other day I wrote about how this is particularly true when it comes to our system of taxation.
Well, since that article I have discovered some new numbers that were just released by Citizens for Tax Justice. Some of the things that they have uncovered are absolutely amazing….
Between 2008 and 2011, Verizon made a total profit of $19.8 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -3.8%.
Between 2008 and 2011, General Electric made a total profit of $19.6 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -18.9%.
Between 2008 and 2011, Boeing made a total profit of $14.8 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -5.5%.
Between 2008 and 2011, Pacific Gas & Electric made a total profit of $6 billion and yet paid an effective tax rate of -8.4%.
So why should middle class families continue to be suffocated by outrageous tax rates when hugely profitable corporations such as General Electric are able to get away with paying nothing?
Our current tax system is an utter abomination and should be completely thrown out.
But as is the case with so many other things, our current system is going to persist because the "big guys" really enjoy the status quo and they are the ones that fund political campaigns.
It would be bad enough if the "big guys" were beating us on a level playing field.
But the truth is that the game has been dramatically tilted in their favor and they know that the politicians are going to take care of them whenever they need it.
So what is going to happen the next time the too big to fail banks get into trouble?
They will almost certainly get bailed out again.
Unfortunately, the big Wall Street banks continue to treat the financial system as if it was a gigantic casino. The derivatives bubble just continues to grow larger and larger, and it could burst and absolutely devastate the entire global financial system at any time.
According to the New York Times, the too big to fail banks have complete domination over derivatives trading. Every month a secret meeting that includes representatives from JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America and Citigroup is held in New York to coordinate their control over the derivatives marketplace. The following is how the New York Times describes those meetings….
On the third Wednesday of every month, the nine members of an elite Wall Street society gather in Midtown Manhattan.
The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.
When the derivatives market fully implodes, there will not be enough money in the world to bail everyone out. According to the Comptroller of the Currency, the too big to fail banks have exposure to derivatives that is absolutely outrageous. Just check out the following numbers….
JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) – $70.1 Trillion
Citibank (NYSE:C) – $52.1 Trillion
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) – $50.1 Trillion
Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS) – $44.2 Trillion
So what happens when that house of cards comes crashing down?
Well, those big banks will come crying to the federal government again.
They will want more bailouts.
They will claim that if we don't give them the money that they need that the entire financial system will collapse.
And yes, if several of the too big to fail banks were to collapse all at once the consequences would be almost unimaginable.
But of course all of this could have been avoided if we would have made much wiser decisions upstream.
Our financial system is more vulnerable than it ever has been before, and the too big to fail banks just continue to grow.
The lessons from the financial crisis of 2008 have gone unheeded, and we are steamrolling toward an even greater crash.
What a mess.
Written By Michael Snyder From The Economic Collapse