Thursday, December 2, 2010

Food Inflation

With the mainstream media once again being distracted by the debt crisis in Europe, a much larger crisis has been breaking out in China. China has been hit hard in recent weeks with massive food inflation. Food prices in China have risen by 10% during the past month, including a 20% rise in fruits and vegetables. McDonald's recently announced that they will be rising prices for products in all of their stores in China, including a $0.15 increase for Chicken McNuggets. Kweichow Moutai Co., China’s largest liquor maker, is expected to raise prices on their products by 24% this month.

In NIA's top 10 predictions for 2010, NIA predicted there would be major food shortages around the world. The China Banking Regulatory Commission is now admitting that there are severe shortages in China of corn, cotton, sugar, and other crops.


The same food inflation crisis that China is currently experiencing will likely hit the U.S. in early 2011, only much worse. NIA believes it is only a matter of time before Congress places the blame for rapidly rising U.S. food prices on American "speculators" who are buying agricultural commodity ETFs and "hoarders" who have food storage at home. While China can easily solve their food inflation crisis by allowing the yuan to strengthen, the U.S. will have no way of solving its upcoming food inflation crisis. Despite the U.S. being a major producer of agricultural products and being mostly self-sufficient, oil is a very important commodity used in agriculture production and the U.S. needs to import most of its oil. Oil prices hit a new 52-week high last month of about $88 per barrel.

It is also important to realize that agricultural commodities now trade on the international market. Americans are now competing against the rest of the world for the consumption of food. The U.S. just raised its forecast for fiscal year 2011 agricultural commodity exports to $126.5 billion, up $13.5 billion from its last estimate three months ago. They didn't raise this estimate by 12% because the U.S. is increasing production, they raised it as an admission that high agricultural commodity prices are here to stay.

In recent weeks, the mainstream media in the U.S. has been running nightly reports about large crowds at U.S. shopping malls. The media has been hyping up "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday" as signs that the U.S. recession is over and U.S. consumers are once again confident and spending money. The truth is, the only reason shopping malls are full is because U.S. retailers have not been passing on their wholesale price increases to consumers.-China Importing U.S. Food Inflation

The notion that inflation is harmful is a staple of economic science. But most textbooks underrate the extent of the harm, because they define inflation much too narrowly as a lasting decrease of the purchasing power of money (PPM), and also because they pay scant attention to the concrete forms of inflation. To appreciate the disruptive nature of inflation in its full extent we must keep in mind that it springs from a violation of the fundamental rules of society.

Inflation is what happens when people increase the money supply by fraud, imposition, and breach of contract. Invariably it produces three characteristic consequences: (1) it benefits the perpetrators at the expense of all other money users; (2) it allows the accumulation of debt beyond the level debts could reach on the free market; and (3) it reduces the PPM below the level it would have reached on the free market.

While these three consequences are bad enough, things get much worse once inflation is encouraged and promoted by the state (fiat inflation). The government’s fiat makes inflation perennial, and as a result we observe the formation of inflation-specific institutions and habits. Thus fiat inflation leaves a characteristic cultural and spiritual stain on human society.

The Cultural and Spiritual Legacy of Fiat Inflation

1 comment:

  1. Spiritual stain...

    Further proof that economics is a religion, not a science.


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