Act II of the Food Crisis?

Inflation – rising prices, or a drop in the purchasing power of the dollar – will soon rise to the very top of economic concerns. I can’t understand why there are pundits who insist we can’t have inflation while the economy is weak. There are plenty of examples of weak economies with high inflation. After all, I don’t think they are hitting on all cylinders in Zimbabwe, where inflation is thousands of percent.

Soybean prices hit a nine-month high of $12.50 a bushel. The Department of Agriculture said that inventories would drop to only 110 million bushels – the lowest level since 1976-77, when inventories hit 103 million bushels. There were about 2 billion fewer mouths on the planet then. At today’s 32-year low, we can eat through that stockpile in about two weeks. Not a lot room for error; hence, the nine-month high in prices.

We have a similar tight market in corn. In corn, we’re down to about a four-week supply, the lowest in six years. Corn has rallied also. In fact, the prices of a variety of grains are now at levels not seen since the last food crisis:

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During the last food crisis, rice traded for $1,000 a ton and there were riots in different parts of the world. The financial crisis took the headlines away from the unfolding food crisis, but now we are looking at act II.