Rising Food Prices Continue to Climb, with Prices Up 10% in July Alone
Food prices are rising, and consumers are feeling it. Rising food prices aren’t only hitting America, they are happening around the world. Costs have gone up 10 percent between June and July alone, with corn, soybeans, and wheat reaching record prices. This outpaces the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s estimate of a 6 percent increase.
While we may all see small changes in the grocery store and in grocery bills, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim says countries reliant on imported grains, especially “Africa and the Middle East are particularly vulnerable.”
The World Bank attributes the price jump mainly to the American heatwave and drought in Eastern Europe, which has hurt corn and soy in the US and wheat in Russia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan. Use of corn in the production of ethanol in the U.S.—accounting for up to 40 percent of corn crop—has also been blamed for the price jump.
But of course this isn’t the beginning of rising food prices. Costs have been going up for some time now; you can see a food price index we covered around just last Thanksgiving. The food index count, which is an overall score reflecting the total price of the top 6 food commodities, rose to 215 in December of 2010 — up from 90 in the year 2000. Sugar spearheaded the spike, hitting only 2 points away from the 400 mark in December of 2010.
Rice is the only staple that has actually decreased in price (by 4 percent).
G20 Unsympathetic to Those in Need
“We cannot allow these historic price hikes to turn into a lifetime of perils as families take their children out of school and eat less nutritious food to compensate for the high prices,” Jim Yong Kim added.
The World Bank is pushing governments to protect at-risk communities, but the G20 group of leading economic powerhouses is waiting until the USDA reveals September estimates for the year’s harvest. Aid group Oxfam decries the “wait and see” approach, but likely to little avail.
Monsanto and Subsidized Farmers
There’s some epic irony at work when Mother Nature wreaks havoc on genetically modified corn, soy, and beet root which have been slowly poisoning consumers for the last decade. Unfortunately, her work also hurts organic farmers trying, as we all are, to desperately make a living.
Millions worldwide will go hungry as food prices rise, but crop insurance will help out subsidized farmers—many of them being the very ones growing Monsanto crops endorsed by the US government.
And who pays for up to 60 percent of insured crops, including GMO and pesticide-riddled varieties? The average taxpayer. So, we have that to think about, too, when we pay a little more for our daily bread.
Too Big To Jail: Wall Street Executives Unlikely To Face Criminal Charges
September 9, 2012
A last-ditch effort by federal and state law enforcement authorities to hold Wall Street accountable for nearly bringing down the U.S. economy is unlikely to lead to any criminal charges against big bank executives, according to a source close to the investigation.
Barring a “hail mary pass,” said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is still ongoing, the members of a task force President Barack Obama formed in January to investigate fraud in the residential mortgage bond industry will instead most likely bring civil lawsuits against some of the banks involved, though it isn’t clear when these cases might come.
That means any penalties for those accused of fraud or other misconduct would be measured in dollars, not jail terms.
Gold Jumps 3.1% on Week as Silver Soars 7.1%, US Bullion Coins Solid
September 8, 2012
Gold rallied to a more than six-month high at above $1,740 an ounce after Friday’s disappointing U.S. jobs report fueled Fed stimulus bets. Jumping 2.0% on the day, gold prices spurred ahead 3.1% on the week.
“Gold is going through the roof because this negative data makes QE3 more likely now,” Reuters quoted Daniel Briesemann, commodities analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
The U.S. Labor Department said 96,000 jobs were created in August while also revising downward June and July data to show 41,000 fewer jobs than previously reported. July’s revised figure was 141,000, which is less than spectacular itself.
Why have millions of Americans given up on looking for work?
By The Christian Science Monitor
Saturday, September 8, 2012 12:33 EDT
A day after Democrats finished their convention in Charlotte, “the hangover” began, quipped GOP nominee Mitt Romney. That would be the US jobs picture, which not only shows few signs of improving, but is starting to look to many economists like a new normal.
New jobs numbers for August, released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday, showed that the unemployment rate decreased to 8.1 percent from 8.3 percent, a fact overshadowed by a far more startling number:
The rate didn’t tick down because 96,000 people found work. It ticked down because 368,000 able-bodied American workers stopped looking for work and dropped out of the labor force. That makes 7 million people “not in the labor force … who currently want a job,” as the BLS counts them.
Does Explosion in Food Stamp Spending Contribute to Higher Food Prices?
It seems whenever the government injects money into a specific industry, prices climb quickly and a bubble of some sort ensues.
We had the real estate bubble which was aided by government guaranteeing the risky loans that banks made to unqualified buyers. Likewise, we’re still in the midst of an unprecedented college bubble which is inflating costs far beyond the official rate of inflation due to the government’s monopoly and loose requirements on student loans. And, predictably, the mandates of the Affordable Care Act (sic) are already driving up healthcare costs even faster than quasi-monopolies were afforded before the law passed.
This government spending has, for all intents and purposes, created a false demand that would not have naturally existed in the marketplace. Could the same thing now be happening to food prices due to an infusion of government money?
As food prices are already skyrocketing from the pressures of record droughts, biofuel mandates, commodity speculation, and good old fashioned currency debasement, there is certainly enough blame to go around. But should government spending on food stamps be added to this list of culprits?
A new report from last week showed food stamps hit another record of 46.7 million recipients in June, an increase of 173,000 from the previous month. That’s nearly 1 in 7 Americans now dependent on government food aid.
Total supermarket sales in 2011 was $584.369 billion. Using this number as a gauge, current food stamp use represents nearly 13% of all retail food sales.
That’s not exactly a government monopoly like they have on student loans or mortgage guarantees, but it’s certainly enough to contribute to price increases. And if we were to add in other welfare programs and farm subsidies, the percentage of food sales with government handouts is likely much higher.
Additionally, since the U.S. government borrows 54 cents of every dollar it spends, every expense adds to the weakening purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar, putting further pressure on the cost of essentials like food and energy.
It is not a question of whether or not food stamps are the right thing to spend money on, especially during such tough financial times and rapidly rising food prices.
But it should be noted that food stamp costs now exceed what the Pentagon spends each month on the war in Afghanistan.
Although government spending still represents a relatively small percentage of retail food sales, they appear to be striving for a monopoly in regards to food charity with the criminalizing of feeding the poor and homeless happening all around the nation.
This is how they trap Americans into dependence on their system. By eliminating alternatives to charity, much like they’ve eliminated alternatives to student loans or health care services, they can better dictate the rules to the slaves such as drug testing welfare recipients.
What’s more, by eliminating the competition, they’re able to funnel the proceeds into their crony corporations. By the way, JP Morgan runs and gets a cut of the food stamp program. But I digress.
Clearly, struggling Americans can hardly be blamed for their predicament since they had nothing to do with the offshoring of jobs, the reckless deeds of Wall Street, the unforgivable war costs, or high food prices that are devastating the U.S. economy.
But we would be remiss to not ask if government spending was ultimately doing more harm than good.
US debt collectors cash in on $1 trillion in student loans
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