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In light of the major droughts that ravaged the world’s large tracts of agricultural land, global harvest doesn’t look good this year. The Midwestern states of the continental United States, which are considered the breadbasket of the world, have seen their overall production reduced by a significant percentage. About 30% of the world’s major agricultural crops that are traded on the global market come from these agricultural juggernauts. As a result of this crop failure prices are expected to rise across the board. Such price increments are, by and large, the unfortunate consequences of the vagaries of nature, with definite help from us (man-made climate change, etc.) At the same time there is another hideousfactor that will also force pricesto escalate and for which we cannot blame Mother Nature. This latter one is caused by excessive and legalized financial speculation.
In the case of the first, that is crop failure due to ‘climate change’ etc, price movements are always anticipated and there isn’t much the poor global consumers can do about it, except to forgo other expenditures and allocate more of their income to food stuff. The second is a construct,which was systematically concocted by the global financial elite, mainly the American financial class and their operators inside governments and academia. The purpose of the whole project was to make ample room for finance capital to freely speculate in the production and trading of food commodities with a view to makea killing, financial or otherwise! To this end, a number of legislations were enacted, but amongst them all, the Summers-Geithner Commodity Modernization Act of 1999 stands out. See Engdahl article next column.
The decision to pry open the global food/agricultural commodities market for speculative finance was based on the following ideological conviction. The massive financial capital that is accumulated throughout the ages (legally/illegally, ethically/unethically, etc.) must continuously find profitable outlets (productive/unproductive), otherwise, its visible de-valorization (which to us is ultimately unavoidable) can bring down the whole global economic and financial edifice that took centuries to build! Accordingly, as global profit rates from productive activities continued to decline, finance capital aggressively moved to areas that were not its traditional turf. In this regard, we can easily mention the ongoing privatization projects, (including novelties such as private prisons, etc) and the accelerated commodification of nature (carbon trading, etc), etc.
Let us look at the prevailing global financial regime, where interest rates have become insignificant (close to zero) in the scheme of things. At the same time yields on sovereign bonds are also very low, less that 3% for the likes of US Treasuries, German gov’t bonds, etc. In such a scenario, finance capital dashes to gamble on all and sundry, including agricultural commodities, with the hope of better returns. Quietly acceding to its systemic and inevitable devalorization is not something finance capital will accept sitting down; that will only happen over its dead body!
Moreover, don’t forget the major global currency that facilitates the trading of agricultural commodities is still the US dollar. That means every time the American central bank, the FED, as it is affectionately called (Federal Reserve Board) decides to print money in one form or another and for its own various reasons, (that don’t make much sense to outliers, those not fully incorporated within the schema of the global financial ring) the prices of commodities keep on increasing all over the world. After all, the real producers of goods and services must somehow compensate for this useless money printing, which affects them materially. The whole effort, on the part of the global financial cabal, is to give temporal respite to their cronies; banks, big corporations, etc. Nonetheless, this printing or creation of money out of thin air will affect everybody, not only those who are forced to buy their food stuff from abroad, but also consumers within surplus producing countries. Since markets are effectively globalized, local producers can direct their produces to lucrative export market.
From the look of things, the US/EU/UK/Japan are determined to crank up their printing machines in earnest, since their real economies have failed to crank up. If this printing becomes massive, it will not be good for many of us (the poor and the not so rich countries) because it means global inflation will rear its ugly head once again. So far and as expected, the printed money is geared towards buying useless toxic assets from banks and by extension from insolvent corporations of all kinds. The excuse again remains the same, to pump liquidity into the system; read bail out for banks/corporations and massive debts to global tax payers. Here is an honest characterization of what afflicts current global leadership, even though it was noted way back in the 19th century! “In the economic sphere an act, a habit, an institution, a law produces not only one effect, but a series of effects. Of these effects, the first alone is immediate; it appears simultaneously with its cause; it is seen. The other effects emerge only subsequently; they are not seen; we are fortunate if we foresee them.””There is only one difference between a bad economist and a good one: the bad economist confines himself to the visible effect; the good economist takes into account both the effect that can be seen and those effects that must be foreseen. “Yet this difference is tremendous; for it almost always happens that when the immediate consequence is favourable, the later consequences are disastrous, and vice versa. Whence it follows that the bad economist pursues a small present good that will be followed by a great evil to come, while the good economist pursues a great good to come, at the risk of a small present evil.” From the essay; “That Which Is Seen and That Which Is Unseen (1850.) “Frédéric Bastiat. Good Day!