Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Famine of 2009

I've been thinking about this whole deal for a while, but it's time to bring it up for all friends, sailors, and kindred spirits out there.

Had an elucidating conversation this morning over far too much caffeine that made this commentary critical. Now, over Merlot, the thinking is more staid.

There are conditions forming that may create epic levels of trouble next year in the agricultural markets. We saw a little of that with rice last year, and corn, and elsewise--mostly due to bio fuel intrusion on the food chain. None of this pressure has gone away, but additional pressures are likely to be added. They are worth thinking about.

1) We have a credit crisis. We as homesteaders/seasteaders at heart and practice may be better prepared than many, and more or less uneffected by such issues, but the rest of the world is reeling. Farming in particular is in trouble.

2) Farming is in trouble especially because modern farming, globally requires credit as much as seed. The seed is proprietary in most cases, co-ops must purchase their fertilizer contracts, and they must do so on an non-arbritrary time frame. Spring wheat must go in at the right time, period, or you don't have any spring wheat. While GM and AIG dominates the news, the fact is that farmers aren't able to plant. In many cases, at all. Do your research!

3) There is a very very good chance that next summer will be the warmest ever in the history of human kind. Why? We're all cutting back on consumption, all around the world. Oil is at barely 40 bucks a barrel as a result. The ecological result is while CO2 may be lower next year, our soot production--which has kept the world almost 3C too cool--may well be much less. The result may be a sudden and severe increase in global temperatures and drought.

Do a little bit of research and get back to me. What do you think?

6 comments:

Blue Pearl said...

I expect the global recession/slowdown will have a mitigating effect here. With less consumption supplies should build, prices should fall, etc. Same as we are seeing now with oil and gasoline prices. But of course, all this will be temporary. Once the economies start ramping up again .....

jaywfitz said...

It all depends on whether you believe that the current levels of food consumption have a large discretionary factory, and that supplies are elastic enough to cope. I think that's likely questionable.

jaywfitz said...

or factor, rather than factory, of course. . .

Blue Pearl said...

Yes, the discretionary factor is important as always. In the developed countries you could see higher than normal price increases and some mild shortages, but in places like sub-Saharan Africa it could be a whole different story. Limited resources will follow the money as usual.

jbs said...

What would be incredibly interesting, (not necesarily "good") would be the de-coupling of "value" and "price". If food becomes actually scarce, it would be interesting to see if a person who can produce food (notice I didn't say "farmer")would be willing to sell for "money". People amassing huge fortunes might find it more difficult to weather these storms than they think.
j.

jaywfitz said...

That's a pretty good point.

Case example: Zimbabwe at the moment, where those few with wealth left have attempted to put their money in gold, and it simply cannot be had, at any price, in Zimbabwe's currency.

I can envision a scenario where certain things simply aren't for sale. At all.