Barclays could be making as much as £340 million a year in profit through gambling on the price of key commodity crops like coffee, sugar and wheat, the Ecologist has learnt.
By creating funds to allow investors to speculate on the price of food, in the same way they would invest in the shares of a company, Barclays and others are able to bet on the price of food. However, food commodity trading is leading to higher and more volatile prices, say campaigners, which affect poor families in the less industrialised world the hardest as they can’t afford basic foods and also make it more difficult for farmers to plan and invest.
A World Bank report in February showed an extra 40 million people had been pushed into poverty as a result of rising food prices since June 2010.
An analysis of Barclays’ involvement in food speculation, commissioned by the campaign group World Development Movement (WDM) – and seen by the Ecologist – has found it to be the dominant figure in the UK both in terms of the estimated volume of trading and risk it is allowing its traders to take.
Rapid growth in speculation
From a position of relative obscurity, Barclays Capital, the investment arm of the high-street bank, has rapidly increased its involvement in commodity trading and become not only the market leader in the UK but the third biggest trader globally, behind Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
via Barclays ‘making up to £340 million profit’ on food price speculation – the ecologist
TOKYO — Some of the world’s largest cement pumps were en route to Japan’s stricken nuclear plant on Thursday, initially to help douse areas with water but eventually for cement work — including the possibility of entombing the site as was done in Chernobyl.
Operated via remote control, one of the truck-mounted pumps was already at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site and being used to spray water. Four more will be flown in from Germany and the United States, according to the German-manufacturer Putzmeister. The biggest of the five has an arm that extends well over 200 feet.
“Initially, they will probably pump water,” Putzmeister stated. “Later they will be used for any necessary concreting work.”
A construction company in Augusta, Ga., was among those redirecting the pumps to Japan. Its owner said he believes building a concrete sarcophagus will follow.
“Our understanding is they are preparing to go to next phase and it will require a lot of concrete,” Jerry Ashmore told the Augusta Chronicle.
He did not expect the pump to return. “It will be too hot to come back,” Ashmore said.
A cargo plane is expected to fly the truck and pump from Atlanta next week at a cost of $1.4 million.
Putzmeister concrete pumps were among those used to seal in the Chernobyl reactor after it exploded in Ukraine in 1986, and sightings of the first truck at the Dai-ichi complex last week led to media speculation that Japan was planning to do the same in Fukushima.
The Mainichi newspaper reported Friday that Japan’s government plans to take control of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the stricken nuclear plant, by injecting public funds.
TEPCO could face compensation claims topping $130 billion if Japans worst nuclear crisis dragged on, Bank of America-Merrill Lynch estimated this week, further fueling expectations Japans government will step in to save Asias largest utility.
But the government is unlikely to take more than a 50 percent stake in the company, an unnamed government official was quoted by the daily as saying.
“If the stake goes over 50 percent, it will be nationalized. But that’s not what we are considering,” the official was quoted as saying.
Japanese trade minister Banri Kaieda said the government has yet to debate the possibility of nationalizing or taking control of TEPCO, Kyodo news agency reported.
Japans Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said Thursday that consistently high levels found in seawater outside the plant may mean radiation is leaking out continuously.
via Entomb? Cement pumps flown in to nuke plant – World news – Asia-Pacific – msnbc.com.