Friday, 27th July 2012
The Food Crises: The US Drought
Source: New England Complex Systems Institute
From the Abstract:
Recent droughts in the midwestern United States threaten to cause global catastrophe driven by a speculator amplified food price bubble. Here we show the effect of speculators on food prices using a validated quantitative model that accurately describes historical food prices. During the last six years, high and fluctuating food prices have lead to widespread hunger and social unrest. While the spring of 2012 had a relative dip in the food prices, a massive drought in the American midwest in June and July threatens to trigger another crisis. In a previous paper, we constructed a model that quantitatively agreed with food prices and demonstrated that, while the behavior could not be explained by supply and demand economics, it could be parsimoniously and accurately described by a model which included both the conversion of corn into ethanol and speculator trend following. An update to the original paper in February 2012 demonstrated that the model previously published was predictive of the ongoing price dynamics, and anticipated a new food crisis by the end of 2012 if adequate policy actions were not implemented. Here we provide a second update, evaluating the effects of the current drought on global food prices. We find that the drought may trigger the expected third food price bubble to occur sooner, before new limits to speculation are scheduled to take effect. Reducing the amount of corn that is being converted to ethanol may address the immediate crisis. Longer term, market stabilization requires limiting financial speculation.
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By Adrian Janes
Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes is currently an Information Services Librarian with the London Borough of Havering.
In this role, he has particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by Free Pint Ltd. in 2007. He is also involved in training and publicising online reference resources and is a regular contributor to DocuTicker.
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