So contracts were up 100 percent from 2004 to 2010 but only 80 percent from 1990 to 2010? That implies futures contracts declined from 1990 to 2004, which seems unlikely. I suspect from the “moreover” that McClatchy meant that contracts grew 80 percent to 2004 and another 100 percent from there to 2010. This is where a link to the data it’s using would come in helpful, but the chain doesn’t have any links in its piece.

And aside from volatility, it’s worth noting that cotton prices, which averaged about 75 cents in 1990, are up far less than the price of inflation since then. If they’d kept pace with inflation, they’d be about 30 percent higher than they are now.

Again, it’s reasonable to suspect that Wall Street drove the most recent cotton bubble and I don’t doubt there has been a surge in speculators in cotton, as there has been in other commodities. But this piece doesn’t prove it.

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.