By Mark L. Thomas
A single commodity trader in London hit the headlines last month when he snapped up 7 percent of the world’s entire cocoa bean production. His actions drove the price to its highest level in more than three decades. But Anthony Ward – or “Chocfinger” as he has been dubbed in the press – is far from alone. Just two years on from the economic crash, the speculators who caused it are back – rescued from oblivion by state bank bailouts.
With slim pickings in housing markets, this time hedge funds and bankers are betting on everything from farmland to minerals across the Global South.
Sharmila Naik lives in Advalpal, in the Indian state of Goa. He tells of what it’s like to be at the sharp end of the mining speculators. “Companies came to our village, offered money and mines got started,” he says.
“However after one year we realised how dangerous this mining was. We started opposing the mines. “Mines disrupted water flow in the village and our crop got flooded at the time of harvest. The mine buried existing water lakes with mining silt.
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