Six degrees of starvin' nationsIn 788 words, Paul Krugman sums up the global policy trap surrounding food. It's not funny or youtube, but it is insightful. He goes from the food crisis to emerging economies to oil prices to bad weather to biofuel to political mis-management.
Here's the beginning of Krugman's NY Times Op-ed 7Apr2008, "Grains Gone Wild":
These days you hear a lot about the world financial crisis. But there’s another world crisis under way — and it’s hurting a lot more people.
I’m talking about the food crisis. Over the past few years the prices of wheat, corn, rice and other basic foodstuffs have doubled or tripled, with much of the increase taking place just in the last few months. High food prices dismay even relatively well-off Americans — but they’re truly devastating in poor countries, where food often accounts for more than half a family’s spending.
There have already been food riots around the world. Food-supplying countries, from Ukraine to Argentina, have been limiting exports in an attempt to protect domestic consumers, leading to angry protests from farmers — and making things even worse in countries that need to import food.
How did this happen? The answer is a combination of long-term trends, bad luck — and bad policy.
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Written by Mirzipan