Farmer Betsy Jensen explains how the so-called financial “reform” bill signed by President Obama will harm agricultural markets, and thus farmers, in today’s New York Times. Particularly damaging will be its restrictions on derivatives, which “traders who buy and sell wheat or corn” use to insure themselves against risk. Worried farmers like Jensen are “well aware that the system would not function without” those traders. Farmers like Jensen also use derivatives to protect against swings in prices for the crops they sell, and “swings in the cost of fertilizer, fuel and other staples.”
While it imposes harmful red tape on agriculture, the financial reform bill deliberately does nothing to reform the corrupt government-sponsored mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, even though Treasury Secretary Geithner admits that they were a “core part of what went wrong” in our financial system. The bill’s 2,315 pages are full of payoffs for special interests. (Obama received $125,000 in contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac executives.)
At Obama’s direction, Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae ran up tens of billions of dollars in losses bailing out out delinquent mortgage borrowers, some of whom had high incomes. The Obama administration rewarded them for going along with this by showering their executives with $42 million in pay.
The financial “reform” law’s restrictions on derivatives could cost U.S. companies as much as $1 trillion in lost capital and liquidity. While regulators may ultimately decide to exempt farmers themselves from many of those harmful restrictions, it is doubtful that they will exempt the agricultural traders who are needed to provide “enough liquidity, or money” for the agricultural markets to “function” properly.