Commodities Cartel & Central Banks – The Real Market Sharks?

Just to remind the interested reader what a cartel is; this is what wikipedia says:

cartel is a formal, explicit agreement among competing firms. It is a formal organization of producers and manufacturers that agree to fix prices, marketing, and production.[1] Cartels usually occur in an oligopolistic industry, where the number of sellers is small (usually because barriers to entry, most notably startup costs, are high) and the products being traded are usually commodities. Cartel members may agree on such matters as price fixing, total industry output, market shares, allocation of customers, allocation of territories, bid rigging, establishment of common sales agencies, and the division of profits or combination of these. The aim of such collusion (also called the cartel agreement) is to increase individual members’ profits by reducing competition.

Cartels everywhere have one aim, to guard against negative impact on the cartel members material position.

The OPEC for Oil. The Central Bank Gold Agreement for Gold.

Here’s a recent article from the FT (19th May 2014!)

european-central-bank-cartel-gold-sales-purchases

This is why I find it interesting that people; traders at investment banks trying to play alongside these cartels are now being made scapegoats. The high oil prices and high  gold prices are not a result of natural market forces, but clearly, as evidenced by agreements and organsitations at country / central bank level, cartel prices.

It makes you wonder who is really unethical in all these cases the goverments or their watchdogs are leading. It reminds me more of a situation in which small sharks are being culled by order of the larger sharks!

 

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