Pope Francis rages at commodity speculation

 

The Pope has launched a scathing attack on financial speculation, dubbing betting on commodity prices a “scandal”, as he called on the rich to share their wealth.

Addressing a seminar on ethical investing in the Vatican, the pontiff branded the wealth made from financial speculation as “intolerable” and singled out financial speculation on commodity prices, calling it a “scandal” that has compromised the access to food for the poorest.

“It is increasingly intolerable that financial markets are shaping the destiny of peoples rather than serving their needs, or that the few derive immense wealth from financial speculation while the many are deeply burdened by the consequences,” Pope Francis added.

Some of the world’s biggest banks, including JPMorgan, Barclays, UBS and Deutsche Bank, are reducing, or slashing altogether, their operations in the commodities sector thanks to lower profits and tighter regulation.

He called for the return of ethics in finance and insisted that markets should serve the interests of the people, not the privileged.

 

He also threw his support behind “impact investment”, which seeks to generate social and environmental benefits as well as profits, adding that there can be a “virtuous cycle” between the two.

He said: “It is urgent that governments commit themselves to developing an international framework capable of promoting a market of high impact investments, and thus to combating an economy which excludes and discards.”

Pope Francis has often criticised the excesses of capitalism, corporate greed and income inequalty. In his first major work as Pope, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), he described capitalism as a “tyranny” and criticised trickle-down economics as a system that excludes the vulnerable and the poor.

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