Pope Benedict XVI ventured into economic policy today. During an address to the Rome-based United Nations Food And Agriculture Organization, the AFP reports, the Pope called for action "against 'speculation' on commodity markets."
"Poverty, underdevelopment and hunger are often the result of selfish attitudes which, coming from the heart of man, show themselves in social behavior and economic exchange," the Pope said according to Reuters.
"How can we ignore the fact that food has become an object of speculation or is connected to movements in a financial market that, lacking in clear rules and moral principles, seems anchored on the sole objective of profit?" he asked.
The Wall Street Journal asks jokingly if Il Papa is turning into some kind of financial blogger, but then goes on to seriously compare his views with that of the chairman of the Federal Reserve:
Maybe it's just the Friday-afternoon boredom talking, but doesn't this put Pope Benedict XVI in direct opposition to Ben Bernanke, who suggests that high food prices are due more to higher demand in China, India, et al, than to market speculation turbo-charged by cheap money?
Anyway, he's certainly making the more sympathetic argument, with corn prices up 61% in the past year, soybeans up 43% and rice up 40%.
The AFP adds that "Benedict also called on Jose Graziano da Silva, a former Brazilian minister who takes over at the UN agency on January 1, to respond to expectations of 'concrete solutions for those who suffer from hunger and malnutrition.'"