Nzherald.co.nz reports that Riots spread as global food shortage worsens.
(emphasis mine) [my comment]
Gwynne Dyer: Riots spread as global food shortage worsens
By Gwynne Dyer
5:30 AM Saturday Jan 15, 2011
Youth face police forces in Annaba, eastern Algeria. Photo / AP
If all the food in the world were shared out evenly, there would be enough to go around. That has been true for centuries now - if food was scarce, the problem was that it wasn't in the right place.
But there was no global shortage. However, that will not be true much longer.
The food riots began in Algeria more than a week ago, and THEY ARE GOING TO SPREAD. During the last global food shortage, in 2008, there was serious rioting in Mexico, Indonesia and Egypt. We may expect to see that again, only more widespread.
Most people in these countries live in a cash economy and a large proportion live in cities. They buy their food, they don't grow it. That makes them vulnerable, because they have to eat almost as much as people in rich countries do but their incomes are much lower.
The poor, urban multitudes in these countries (including China and India) spend up to half of their entire income on food, compared with only about 10 per cent in rich countries.
When food prices soar, these people quickly find that they simply lack the money to go on feeding themselves and their children properly - and FOOD PRICES NOW ARE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH.
MSNBC reports that Global food chain stretched to the limit.
Global food chain stretched to the limit
Soaring prices spark fears of social unrest in developing world
Prakash Singh / AFP/Getty Images
Activists from India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) women's wing shout slogans against the Congress-led government during a protest against an increase in milk, vegetables and food prices in New Delhi on April 1, 2010. The BJP activists protested against the price hikes of essential commodities. Food inflation is still at 17 percent according to official figures.
By John W. Schoen Senior producer
updated 1/14/2011 10:51:29 AM ET 2011-01-14T15:51:29
Strained by rising demand and battered by bad weather, the global food supply chain is stretched to the limit, sending prices soaring and sparking concerns about a repeat of food riots last seen three years ago.
Signs of the strain can be found from Australia to Argentina, Canada to Russia.
On Friday, Tunisia's president fled the country after trying to quell deadly riots in the North African country by slashing prices on food staples.
"We are entering a danger territory," Abdolreza Abbassian, chief economist at the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said last week.
The U.N.'s fear is that the latest run-up in food prices could spark a repeat of the deadly food riots that broke out in 2008 in Haiti, Kenya and Somalia. That price spike was relatively short-lived. But Abbassian said the latest surge in food stuffs may be more sustained.
"Situations have changed. The supply/demand structures have changed," Abbassian told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. last week. "Certainly the kind of weather developments we have seen makes us worry a little bit more that IT MAY LAST MUCH, MUCH LONGER. Are we prepared for it? Really this is the question."
Price for grains and other farm products began rising last fall after poor harvests in Canada, Russia and Ukraine tightened global supplies. More recently, hot, dry weather in South America has cut production in Argentina, a major soybean exporter. This month's flooding in Australia wiped out much of that country's wheat crop.
As supplies tighten, prices surge. Earlier this month, the FAO said its food price index jumped 32 percent in the second half of 2010, soaring past the previous record set in 2008.
Prices rose again this week after the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut back its already-tight estimate of grain inventories. Estimated reserves of corn were cut to about half the level in storage at the start of the 2010 harvest; soybean reserves are at the lowest levels in three decades, the USDA estimates, in part because of heavy buying by China. The ratio of stocks to demand is expected to fall later this year to "levels unseen since the mid-1970s," the agency said.
Story: Wholesale prices post biggest gain in a year
"I haven't seen numbers this low that I can remember in the last 20 or 30 years," said Dennis Conley, an agricultural economist at the University of Nebraska. "We are at record low stocks. So if there any kind of glitch at all in the U.S. weather, supplies are going to remain tighter and we might see even higher prices."
Pravda.ru reports about doom and gloom.
Doom and gloom
Have you noticed that most Americans seem to know far more about American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, Justin Bieber and their favorite sports teams than they do about world affairs? Most Americans cannot even find Tunisia and Algeria on a map, and if you told them that food riots are happening in those nations right now most of them would not even care anyway. We have become a very self-centered, self-involved and self-absorbed nation. Quite a few people have accused this column of being obsessed with "doom and gloom", but the truth is that the world really is falling apart out there. What are we supposed to do? Are we all supposed to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is going to be okay? Should we all not try to warn others so that they can prepare for what is coming? Until people understand that we are facing absolutely massive problems they are not going to be motivated to take significant action, and hopefully those of us that are proclaiming "doom and gloom" are doing a good enough job of describing what is really going on out there that some people are starting to wake up and actually make changes.
Most Americans may not care, but the food riots that are starting to erupt around the globe are actually very serious.
Do you remember what happened back in the summer of 2008?
That summer, the price of oil spiked to an all-time high of $147 a barrel and that caused a substantial increase in the price of food all over the globe. Suddenly millions of poor people couldn't afford to feed themselves anymore and food riots erupted all over the world.
Well, here we are in 2011 and the price of oil hasn't even reached $100 a barrel, and yet the food riots are already beginning.
Violent food riots are being reported in Tunisia, in Algeria, in Chile and in Mozambique.
In Tunisia, the riots have been so intense that the President of Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has been forced to step down and flee for his life.
Yes, that is how serious things are getting already.
Unfortunately, it looks like the global food situation is only going to get even worse.
Australia is a major food producer and right now they are experiencing flooding of Biblical proportions. In fact, it has been reported that at one point the flooding covered an area greater than France and Germany combined.
In Brazil, another major food producer, horrific flooding has killed more than 500 people so far. This flooding is being called the "worst-ever natural disaster" in the history of Brazil.
Meanwhile, record cold temperatures and record snowfalls are playing havoc with winter crops all over the Northern Hemisphere.
But even before all of these weather disasters struck the price of food had been going up significantly. The UN recently announced that THE GLOBAL PRICE OF FOOD HIT AN ALL-TIME HIGH DURING THE MONTH OF DECEMBER, and world leaders all over the globe are openly expressing concern about what 2011 is going to bring.
Sadly, the truth is that there has been a trend of rising food prices for quite some time. According to Forbes, corn is up 94% since June, soybeans are up 51% since June, and wheat is up 80% since last June.
As one of my readers recently pointed out to me, it usually takes about six months for the prices of agricultural futures to filter down into the supermarkets. So the very high prices for agricultural commodities that we are seeing right now should really start to be felt around the globe by the middle of 2011.
In addition to everything else, reports continue to come in of thousands of birds and millions of fish suddenly dying all over the globe, and nobody seems to really know what is causing it.
Do you want some more doom and gloom?
*There are reports of "panic buying" of silver and other precious metals right now.
*Investors are bailing out of municipal bonds at an absolutely staggering rate.
*S&P; and Moody's have both warned once again that the United States is in danger of having its credit rating slashed if it does not get government debt under control.
*U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Meanwhile, America's economic infrastructure continues to be taken apart piece by piece.
The United States is losing more jobs to China. In fact, the United States is losing more high technology "green jobs" to China.
Evergreen Solar, a company that manufactures solar panels, is closing their factory in Devon, Massachusetts and they are moving their production facilities to China. This is going to result in the loss of 800 good American jobs.
The following is what the company had to say in a statement about the move....
"Solar manufacturers in China have received considerable government and financial support and, together with their low manufacturing costs, have become price leaders within the industry."
Is it any wonder that a recent survey found that 47 percent of Americans now believe that China is the world's leading economic power while only 31 percent still believe that the United States is the world's leading economic power?
As America continues to lose good jobs, millions of Americans find themselves simply unable to pay the bills. In fact, at this point one out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one government-run anti-poverty program.
As things have fallen apart in the United States, many private citizens have tried to step forward and do what they can to help people, but now in many areas of the country the government is actually stepping in and shutting down these private avenues of assistance.
For example, in the city of Houston, Texas a couple named Bobby and Amanda Herring has been feeding homeless people for over a year. They never left behind any trash and no trouble was ever caused.
But now the city of Houston is shutting them down.
Because they don't have a permit.
So will they be able to get a permit? Well, it turns out that city officials are saying that this "Feed a Friend" effort most likely will be denied one.
Apparently the city "officials" believe that the homeless "are the most vulnerable to foodborne illness" and that therefore the warm meals that the Herrings were providing for them were potentially dangerous.
Can you believe this?
This is what happens when political correctness and bureaucracy get wildly out of control.
Now it is illegal to go out and feed homeless people?
What is American turning into?
As the economy continues to fall part, the iron grip of the government is likely only going to get tighter as it desperately tries to keep order.
But do we really need to be giving tickets to 6-year-olds?
Yes, you read that correctly.
According to one recent report, police in Texas have given "1,000 tickets to elementary school children in 10 school districts" over the past six years. [See Texas school police ticketing students as young as 6]
For more examples of how America is turning into a police state, please see my recent article entitled "Almost Everything Is A Crime In America Now: 14 Of The Most Ridiculous Things That Americans Are Being Arrested For".
AMERICA IS RAPIDLY BECOMING A VERY DARK PLACE.
The truth is that there is a reason why so many websites are now reporting so much "doom and gloom". Things really are getting bad out there.
Sadly, most Americans have only known tremendous prosperity all of their lives, so they can't even conceive of what it would be like to go through difficult times.
Most Americans have been conditioned to believe that while we may have brief "recessions" once in a while, in the end our economy will always get better and the good times will continue to roll.
But the good news is that an increasing number of Americans are waking up and are trying to warn their family and friends about what is coming.
So do you believe that the food shortages and the food riots are going to get even worse throughout the rest of 2011? [Oh yes, much worse.]
My reaction: In December 2009, I warned about a food crisis in 2010, and, in December 2010, the global price of food hit an all-time high.
1) The global food supply chain is stretched to the limit with stocks at record lows. US soybean reserves are at the lowest levels in three decades because of heavy buying by China.
2) it usually takes about six months for the prices of agricultural futures to filter down into the supermarkets. So the very high prices for agricultural commodities that we are seeing right now should really start to be felt around the globe by the middle of 2011.
3) The supply/demand structures have changed. Unlike the 2008 food crisis, the latest surge in food stuffs will be sustained (you will never see 3 dollar corn again).
4) "We are entering a danger territory," Abdolreza Abbassian, chief economist at the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said last week.
1) The food riots began in Algeria more than a week ago, and they spreading.
2) Violent food riots are being reported in Tunisia, in Algeria, in Chile and in Mozambique.
3) On Friday, Tunisia's president fled the country after trying to quell deadly riots in the North African country by slashing prices on food staples.
America is rapidly becoming a very dark place
1) America's economic infrastructure continues to be taken apart piece by piece
2) U.S. housing prices have now fallen further during this economic downturn than they did during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
3) Investors are bailing out of municipal bonds at an absolutely staggering rate.
4) "panic buying" of silver and other precious metals right now.
5) it is now illegal to go out and feed homeless people in many places.
6) 47 percent of Americans now believe that China is the world's leading economic power while only 31 percent still believe that the United States is the world's leading economic power.
Conclusion: Faced with the threat of food riots and violent revolution, central banks around the world will soon start dumping the foreign reserves to appreciate their currencies and bring down domestic food prices. This will collapse the US treasury market and the dollar. All hell will break lose… (more on this in my next entry)