Dutch Banks and Pension Funds in Agricultural Derivatives Markets

The effect on prices of increased financial investments in commodity derivatives markets especially those for staple foodshas been the subject of fierce debate since 2008. In order to make an informed dialogue possible between Dutch financial institutions and civil society organisations this report aims to provide a better understanding of the activities of large Dutch financial institutions in the (agricultural) commodity derivatives markets. SOMO has examined the activities in agricultural derivatives markets of the three largest Dutch banks and three largest pension funds, covering almost 90% of the Dutch banking sector and approximately 60% of all pension savings. It turns out that all albeit to varying degrees are active in the commodity derivatives markets, including those for staple foods. SOMO concludes that financial institutions should either refrain from investing in staple food derivatives, as it is a potential threat to humans right to affordable food to which they all subscribe. They should also provide more transparency about their activities and a clear argumentation in which they explicitly address the studies that find financial investments distort the world food market. Only in this way is a well-informed dialogue possible about this highly complex and important matter.

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