Senior HSBC Economist Karen Ward: Rising Food And Energy Prices Could Spark Riots In The UK

A SENIOR economist at the worldwide bank HSBC has warned of civil unrest in Britain if food prices continue to soar, Sky News reported yesterday.

Karen Ward cautioned that the UK was not immune to the kind of “food riots” seen in other countries around the world.

“Even in the developed world I think we have very, very low wage growth, so people aren’t getting more in their pay packet to compensate them for food and energy, and I think we could see social unrest certainly in parts of the developed world and the UK as well,” she told Sky News.

She went on to highlight the link between high food prices and the escalating cost of crude oil.

“More and more we are seeing that some of these foodstuffs are actually substitutes for energy itself, particularly biofuels. So I think the energy markets are a significant contributor to these food price gains,” she said.

The comments came as the United Nations warned the cost of food is now at the highest level for 21 years and set to rise further.

Food costs have gone up for eight months in a row, with the UK’s National Farmers Union forecasting the trend will continue for the rest of 2011.

The cost of basic foodstuffs has been caused by increasing demand and extreme weather destroying crops – and has been partly to blame for the unrest sweeping the Arab world, which in turn is putting pressure on oil prices.

March 09, 2011 11:58AM

Source: Herald Sun

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