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This book takes as its starting point claims made by NGOs that financial speculators trading in commodity derivatives were instrumental in the causation of the global food crisis in 2007-11, which was aggravated by extraordinary levels of price volatility in markets for grain. Anna Chadwick examines debates over the causal significance of financial speculation in the production of food price volatility. Contradicting a prevailing tendency to cast these debates in terms of the distortion of food prices by financial investors, she argues that it may no longer be possible to conceptually distinguish 'true' prices for commodities from the prices listed on derivatives markets, or to meaningfully delineate between beneficial 'hedging' in financial markets and distortive 'speculative' trading.
Chadwick critically examines new regulations that attempt to curb 'excessive' levels of speculation in financial instruments linked to commodity prices. After concluding that the new regulations may be of little help in the fight against world hunger, the author illuminates how existing legal regimes spanning domestic contract law, private property rights, transnational private regulation, categories of public international law, norms of international trade and investment law, and even human rights, actively contribute to the production of hunger in the world.
If world hunger is to be eradicated, as successive initiatives of the international community would aim to ensure, greater attention needs to be paid to how different laws and legal regimes coalesce to obstruct vulnerable communities in accessing food, and continue to entitle an economic elite to command access to resources ahead of the needs of poor communities.