If you understand the causes of political upheaval, you know it is high time to take food prices seriously as a security issue
- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
By “Bushel N.A. Peck”
Best Defense guest respondent
It’s been little reported that the unrest in Tunisia which helped trigger the first “Arab Spring” protests had a lot to do with spiking food prices that were rapidly eroding peoples’ disposable income.
Have you seen this report?
Bar-Yam, et al came up with a quantitative model that seems to predict global food prices and knock-on social effects. He places blame primarily on speculation and redirection of food crops to ethanol production.
“The food price bubble of 2011 caused widespread hunger and helped trigger the Arab spring. In 2013 we expect prices to be even higher and may lead to major social disruptions,” said Professor Bar-Yam President of NECSI, who has just returned from Davos where he presented his findings on speculation in global commodity markets. His paper, “The Food Crises: A Quantitative Model of Food Prices Including Speculators and Ethanol Conversion,” was called by Wired magazine one of the top 10 discoveries in science of 2011.
It seems to me the globalized financial industry (which really should be called the financialization cartel) has figured out how to engineer speculative bubbles. First they did it in the 90’s with the tech bubble. When that popped, it caused a moderate north America recession. Then they stepped up to the real estate market, and when that bubble popped it caused a massive U.S. and European recession. Now they’ve moved on to inflating a global agricultural bubble. Try to imagine what happens when that pops? Third time should be charming.