Aug 21

The Growing Threat Of Soybean-Inspired Social Unrest In China (ZeroHedge, Aug 19, 2012):

Two weeks ago we explained why the drought-inspired soaring price of Soybeans  – specifically from the US – would notably influence global central-planners’ actions – and more specifically the Chinese (given its high impact on food price inflation). Food prices remain elevated and the PBoC is undertaking Reverse Repos – the exact opposite of an RRR-driven easing program so many expected. However, there is a further, deeper, and more troubling consequence than ‘simple’ inflationary arguments – that of social unrest. Confirming our insight, the LA Times points out,

Soybean oil is the most important edible oil in China with more than two-thirds of cooking oil consumed in China coming from soybeans – and most of those soybeans are supplied by the US (more than half of US exports are to China and the US is China’s number 1 supplier). According to one official this “makes [China] vulnerable to the drought” and bound to the fortunes of farmers in the American heartland. The Chinese devote more than 20% of their income to food (three times more than Americans – according to the USDA).

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Dec 01

The Chinese President has issued a rare warning to the ruling Communist Party, telling his officials that the global economic downturn is so severe that it could shake its 59-year grip on power.

President Hu Jintao’s remarks, at a weekend meeting of the ruling 25-member Politburo, appeared on the front page of the party’s official mouthpiece, the People’s Daily. It was his bluntest message yet delivered on the crisis to China’s 1.3 billion people and more than 70 million members of the party.

The subtext of his speech was the increasing risk of social unrest caused by China’s rising unemployment, as a slump in exports leads to factory closures and a fall in property sales results in abandoned construction projects.

The President, who is also the head of the Communist Party, said: “In this coming period, we will starkly confront the effects of the sustained deepening of the international financial crisis and pressure as global economic growth clearly slows.” He said that the slowdown would “steadily weaken our country’s traditional competitive advantages”.

The speech is the most authoritative warning yet of the blow dealt to the world’s fourth-largest economy by the international financial crisis. Tens of thousands of migrant workers at failed factories are already heading back to their farms, and economists say that the real drop in export orders may not be felt until early next year.

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Apr 14

KABUL, April 14 (Reuters) – Impoverished Afghans struggling with rising wheat prices are not expected to get any relief soon with no sign prices are going to come down, a United Nations official said on Monday.

Top finance and development officials from around the world called in Washington on Sunday for urgent action to stem rising food prices, warning that social unrest will spread unless the cost of basic staples is contained.

Afghanistan is one of the world’s poorest countries with half its 25 million people living below the poverty line.

Wheat prices in Afghanistan have risen by an average of 60 percent over the last year with certain areas seeing a rise of up to 80 percent, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said. Continue reading »

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Apr 13

The big problem with inflation is that people get low blood sugar when they are hungry, and soon their moods turn sour. I know this for a fact because if breakfast or brunch or lunch or coffee break or dinner or any snack is five minutes late, I involuntarily turn into a screaming monster from hell demanding to know who stole my food and vowing bloody revenge. I can only imagine the anger when hunger is caused because someone can’t afford to buy food!

This “inability to buy food” is one of the problems with inflation, and that ugliness is now here, as we read from that “The World Bank in Washington says 33 nations from Mexico to Yemen may face ‘social unrest’ after food and energy costs increased for six straight years.” Hahaha! No kidding?

World Bank chief Robert Zoellick says, “Thirty-three countries around the world face potential social unrest because of the acute hike in food and energy prices”, and that since 2005, “the prices of staples have jumped 80%”.

Like what? Like corn and wheat, which are making the news by rising like crazy, and the latest food emergency is that “Rice, the staple food for half the world,” is now double the price of a year ago, and a fivefold increase from 2001. Yikes!

100% inflation in the price of rice in one year! And 500% in seven years! Yikes again! No wonder that Jody Clarke at reports that “Since January 2005 the average price of a loaf of bread in the US has risen 32%. Overall, US retail food prices rose 4 % last year, the biggest jump in 17 years, says the US Department of Agriculture. Meanwhile restaurant owners have been even harder hit, with wholesale price increases of 7.4%. That’s the biggest jump in nearly three decades, according to the National Restaurant Association.”

And worse yet for us alcohol-besotted worthless lushes out here, heroically keeping bartenders and comely barmaids gainfully employed year around, the price of hops, an integral ingredient in beer making, has soared from $4 a pound to $40.

The Marketbasket Survey, conducted by the American Farm Bureau Federation, says a basket of things like bread, milk, eggs and pork chops will cost you $3.50, or 8.9%, more this year than last. Both a five-pound bag of flour and a dozen eggs are up over 40% since January 2007. Continue reading »

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Apr 09

Shortages of the staple crop of half the world’s people could bring unrest across Asia and Africa, reports foreign affairs editor Peter Beaumont

A global rice shortage that has seen prices of one of the world’s most important staple foods increase by 50 per cent in the past two weeks alone is triggering an international crisis, with countries banning export and threatening serious punishment for hoarders.

With rice stocks at their lowest for 30 years, prices of the grain rose more than 10 per cent on Friday to record highs and are expected to soar further in the coming months. Already China, India, Egypt, Vietnam and Cambodia have imposed tariffs or export bans, as it has become clear that world production of rice this year will decline in real terms by 3.5 per cent. The impact will be felt most keenly by the world’s poorest populations, who have become increasingly dependent on the crop as the prices of other grains have become too costly.

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Apr 08

Rising food prices, which have caused social unrest in several countries, are not a temporary phenomenon, but are likely to persist for several years, World Bank President Robert Zoellick says.

Strong demand, change in diet and the use of biofuels as an alternative source of energy have reduced world food stocks to a level bordering on an emergency, he says.

Speaking to reporters Monday before the bank’s spring meeting this coming weekend, Zoellick said the 185-member World Bank would work with other organizations to deal with the crisis by seeking ways to help farmers, especially in Africa, to increase productivity and improve access to food through schools or workplaces.

“This is not a this-year phenomenon,” he said, referring to the price spike. “I think it is going to continue for some time.” Continue reading »

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