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Release: Immediate

UI economics professor advises India's commodities markets

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- University of Iowa economics professor William Albrecht recently traveled to India to give advice on modernizing its commodities markets for spices, coffee and other agricultural products.

India's Forward Markets Commission asked Albrecht to attend a workshop of 200 Indian government officials, bankers, and commodity market participants to discuss modernization of its commodities futures markets at a workshop Sept. 17-18 in New Delhi. The commission invited Albrecht because of his experience as former chairman of the U.S. Commodities and Futures Trading Commission.

The World Bank approved a grant towards modernizing the markets, and the Forward Markets Commission is charged with regulating these re-emerging markets. Several exchanges will be set up for pepper and other spices, cotton, coffee, wheat and other agricultural products.

"The government has a great deal of interest in these markets, but there is much work to be done," Albrecht said. "In particular they need to establish clearing houses and address the question of how many exchanges there should be. My main advice to the government was that while the goals of regulation are pretty much the same around the world, each country has its own way of achieving these goals."

India's commodity futures exchanges began operation more than a century ago, but they were closed by the government in the 1960s. Some have recently begun operating again but most of them are places where people meet to work out private trades. The exchanges do not guarantee the trades as they do in U.S. exchanges.

To bring these markets to worldwide standards, India will need to upgrade its telecommunications infrastructure, Albrecht said. "I was very encouraged by the high level of interest from the private sector and by the commitment of the Indian government to this project," he added.

Albrecht has been at the forefront of international business programs at the UI, including an internship program for MBA students in Argentina. As a UI Global Scholar, he is doing research in the development of futures and options exchanges in Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Thailand.

Albrecht can be reached for further comment at (319) 335-3125.