Today, 23 May, is the annual general meeting (AGM) of financial speculator Goldman Sachs, the archetypal villain of the global economic meltdown, bailed out by US taxpayers to the tune of $5.5bn. Perhaps they'll hand out last year's Community Impact report, which shows how they've tried to redeem themselves with charity, like serving up almost 30,000 meals and preparing about 250,000 others in community projects in the US and around the world.
The irony, of course, is that while they're serving up a few meals, their core business is virtually starving people at the same time. In 2012, the US investment bank made an estimated $400m from speculating on food. The World Bank estimated in 2010 that 44 million people were pushed into poverty because of high food prices, and that speculation is one of the main causes.
Since Goldman led the drive to deregulate commodity markets in the 1990s, after constraints were imposed following the 1930s Wall Street crash, they've been at the vanguard of creating and promoting complex commodity instruments, from which they've raked in huge profits. Wallace Turbeville, a former vice president and the inventor of commodity index funds, has been outing the company's methods. He says that in his time at Goldman, investment increased from $3bn in 2003 to $260bn in 2008, and commodity prices rose dramatically during the same period, increasing from 2006 to 2008 by an average of 71%.