The financialisation of food: opportunities and risks

Date: 5 November 2013

Venue: University of Antwerp, Stadscampus, R.002 - Rodestraat 14 - 2000 Antwerpen

Time: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Organization / co-organization: IOB, USOS, MO*

Short description: Debating Development: Myriam Vander Stichele (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, The Netherlands) and Michel Vermaerke (Febelfin, Belgium. Moderator: John Vandaele

We frequently hear about the fact that food price trends have harmed consumers, especially in poorer regions of the world where hunger and undernutrition have always been severe problems, and have caused social unrest. While nobody doubts the impact of traditional demand side (e.g., changing consumption patterns in emerging economies) and supply side factors (e.g., natural disasters), the effect of speculation by investors in food-related derivatives may be less clear-cut, and is hence more controversial. In this debate we move beyond the very technical and rather blunt question of whether or not excessive financial speculation has been the key driver of food price rises and volatility, to a broader discussion of the role the financial sector plays, or could play, in global food markets.

Our keynote speaker Myriam Vanderstichele (SOMO) will give an overview of the different modes and instruments through which the financial sector increasingly participates in food markets and point to a number of risks this ‘financialisation’ of food poses. Discussant Michel Vermaerke (Febelfin), will then critically react and highlight a number of beneficial effects and possible opportunities associated with financial sector participation.

Myriam Vander Stichele 
Myriam Vander Stichele is a Senior Researcher at the Amsterdam-based SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations). She holds a Master in History from the KU Leuven and an M.Phil in International Relations from the University of Cambridge. Since 1990 Ms Vander Stichele has been monitoring international trade negotiations and agreements between developed and developing countries, acting as a trade coordinator and advisor for numerous NGOs. More recently, her research has included analysis of financial services liberalisation, sustainable corporate and investment strategies, and financial sector involvement in food and other commodity markets. Her study reports and policy notes for SOMO are available here. Twitter: @SOMO
Michel Vermaerke 
Michel Vermaerke is the CEO of Febelfin, the Belgian Financial Sector Federation. Mr Vermaerke holds a Master in Law from the University of Ghent, an LL.M International Trade and Finance Law from the American University in Washington, DC and an executive programme degree from Columbia University, NYC. Since 1985 he has held positions in an international law firm, the Generale Bank, Clearstream and Belgacom. As CEO of Febelfin, Mr Vermaerke represents the Belgian financial sector's 250+ member organizations in negotiations and lobbying work at the Belgian and European level. In this capacity, he also regularly gives lectures and participates in debates on the broader societal role of the financial sector.



Entrance fee: free


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Attachment: Folder Debating Development