The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Capitalist speculators hold us up

Jun 2, 2008

Worried about rising prices at the grocery store? Profits are up among food producers and speculators – which is not a coincidence.

Archer-Daniels-Midland (ADM) announced in April that its profits had gone up 42%. The part of ADM that trades in grains had seen income rise seven times. There’s a very good reason: in 2006, a ton of wheat was sold on the world’s exchanges for $375. Now it is selling at more than $900 per ton. Maize (corn) went from about $250 to $560 per ton. Rice prices went from $320 a year ago to $1150 per ton today.

And, of course, it is not just ADM that makes out like a bandit. Profits at agri-businesses Cargill, John Deere, Monsanto and Mosaic were up even more than at ADM.

So is there a shortage of food? Not in the least. A headline in a Business Week story explains it all: “High food prices prompted producers to hoard, limiting supply.” The capitalist bandits don’t hold anyone up with a gun: they just hoard what they buy, waiting to extort higher prices still while people starve to death.