UPDATE: December 18, 2009
Read finished article here:
*****2010 Food Crisis For Dummies*****
I currently working on an article focused on the imminent food shortage and, more importantly, the consequence of higher food prices for the US and global economy. I am trying to keep it short and to the point. Below is a preview of what I have finished so far, the rest will be done tomorrow after I get some sleep.
If you read an economic, financial, or political analysis for 2010 that mention the food shortage looming next year, throw it in the trash, as it is worthless. There is overwhelming, irrefutable evidence that the world will run out of food next year. When this happens, the resulting triple digit food inflation will lead to the collapse of the dollar, the treasury market, derivative markets, and the global financial system. The US will experience economic disintegration.
The 2010 Food Crisis Means Financial Armageddon
Over the last two years, the world has experience faced a series of unprecedented financial crisis: the collapse of the housing market, the freezing of the credit markets, the failure of Wall Street brokerage firms (Bear Stearns/Lehman Brothers), the failure of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, the failure of AIG,
Iceland's economic collapse, the bankruptcy of the major auto manufacturers (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), etc... In the face of all these challenges, the demise of the dollar, derivative markets, and the modern international system of credit has been repeatedly anticipated and feared. However, all these doomsday scenarios have so far been proved false, and, despite tremendous chaos and losses, the global financial system has held together.
The 2010 Food Crisis is different. It is THE CRISIS. The one that makes all doomsday scenarios come true. The government bailouts and central bank interventions which have held the financial world during the last two years will be powerless to prevent the 2010 Food Crisis from bringing the global financial system to its knees.
Astounding lack of awareness
The world is blissful unaware that the greatest economic/financial/political crisis ever seen is a few months away. While it is understandable that general public has no knowledge of the economic pandemonium headed their way, that same ignorance on the part of professional analysts, economists, and other highly paid financial "experts" is mind boggling, as it takes only the tiniest bit of research to realize something is going critically wrong in agricultural market.
USDA estimates for 2009/10 are an insult to common sense.
All someone needs to do to know the world is headed is for food crisis is to stop reading USDA's crop reports predicting a record soybean and corn harvests and listen to what else the USDA saying.
Specifically, the USDA has declared half the counties in the Midwest to be primary disaster areas this year, including 274 Midwest counties in the last 30 days alone. These designated are based on the criteria of a minimum of 30 percent loss in the value of at least one crop in a county. The chart below shows counties declared primary disaster areas by the Secretary of Agriculture and the president of the United States.
The same USDA that is predicting record harvests is also declaring disaster areas across half because of catastrophic crop losses! To eliminate any doubt that this might be an innocent mistake, the USDA is even predicting record soybean harvests in the same states (Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Alabama) where it has declared virtually all counties to have experienced 30 percent production losses. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that these conflicting accounts mean the USDA is lying.
USDA motivated by fear of higher food prices
The USDA is terrorized by the implications of higher food prices for the US economy, most likely because it realizes the immediate consequence of sharply higher food will be the collapse of the US Treasury market and the dollar, as desperate governments and central banks dump their foreign reserves to appreciate their currencies and lower the cost of food imports. Fictitious USDA estimates should be seen as proof of the dire threat posed by higher food prices, as the USDA would not have turned its production estimates into a grotesque mockery of reality if it didn't believe the alternative to be apocalyptic.
Dynamics behind 2010 Food Crisis
Early in 2009, the supply and demand in agricultural markets went badly out of balance. The world was experiencing a catastrophic fall in food production as a result of the financial crisis (low commodity prices and lack of credit) and adverse weather on a global scale. Meanwhile, China and other Asian exporters, in effort to preserve their economic growth, were unleashing domestic consumption long constrained by inflation fears, and demand for raw materials, especially food staples, was exploding as Chinese consumers worked their way towards American-style overconsumption, prodded on by a flood of cheap credit and easy loans from the government.
Normally, food prices should have already shot higher months ago, leading to lower food consumption and bringing the global food supply/demand situation back into balance. This never happened, because the USDA, instead of adjusting production estimates down to reflect decreased production, has been adjusting estimates upwards to match increasing demand from china. In this way, the USDA has brought supply and demand back into balance (on paper) and temporarily delayed rise in food prices by ensuring a severe food shortage in 2010.
USDA induced overconsumption leading to disaster
It is absolutely key to understand that the production of agricultural goods is a fixed, once a year cycle (or twice a year in the case of double crops). The wheat, corn, soybeans and other food staples are harvested in the fall/spring and then that is it for production. It doesn't matter how high prices go or how desperate people get, no new supply can be brought online until the next harvest at the earliest. The supply must last until the next harvest, which is why it is critical that food is correctly priced to avoid overconsumption, otherwise food shortages will occur.
The USDA, by manufacturing the data needed to keep the supply demand in balance, has ensured that agricultural commodities are incorrectly priced, which has lead to overconsumption and has guaranteed disaster next year when supplies run out.
(finished article to be published in next 48 hours)
Finally, here are two cool graphics I plan on incorporating into finished article.
The first shows 2008 Soybean Production by country, which should be an accurate idea of where they were grown in 2009.
The second shows 2008 Soybean Production by country with soybean producing counties declared disaster areas in 2009 highlighted in red, which should be an accurate of how badly production was effected this year.
Here are the USDA's fictitious production estimates again, for those who are interested.
Soybean Production by State and United States
Production (1000 bushels)
USDA 2009 Estimates