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Food commodity speculation, hunger, and the global food crisis: whither regulation

Chadwick, Anna (2015) Food commodity speculation, hunger, and the global food crisis: whither regulation. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis takes as its starting point claims that practices of financial speculation in commodity derivative markets were instrumental in the causation of the global food crisis in 2007-08. Adopting an approach informed by critical legal studies, I seek to challenge dominant conceptions about the role that law has played in this context. Campaigners concerned about these practices place great faith in financial regulation as means of restraining ‘excessive’ speculation. Equally, those concerned with the vulnerability of poor communities to its effects — their condition of ‘food insecurity’, as it is designated in the prevailing discourse — turn to human rights, in particular, the right to adequate food, as a means of response. In both instances, law is positioned as the solution to fix malfunctioning markets. Examining the significance of law in the creation of the two global markets in question — one for a trade in financial instruments linked to food commodities, the other for tangible food commodities — I will consider whether this way of positioning law is accurate. I will explore the possibility that a preoccupation with regulatory solutions obscures other roles that law might play in global commodity markets. Focusing on the role law plays in enabling market behaviours, such as speculation, and in entrenching market entitlements that prevent equitable access to food, I will suggest that a body of law that is constituting and entrenching the market might stand in the way of regulatory ambition. The call for financial regulation to tackle food price volatility and for the strengthening of domestic legal regimes to protect against vulnerability is a call on the state to use law to constrain the excesses of the market in the interests of society. Is this a promising strategy, however, when the constitutive role of law and the state in facilitating the operations of the market is taken into account?

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Anna Chadwick
Library of Congress subject classification: K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Marks, Susan and Lang, Andrew

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