Monday, August 27, 2007

The agonies of agflation

Two stories from The Economist. The first, headlined above you're probably aware of. The second, on teleconferencing is just as important.

There is so much hypocrisy in travel. When I look at the UN's traveling fun show, I am disgusted. So many preachers and pontificators (great word by the way, so many of them are at the archbishopric level [or think they are]) fly around and claim that offsetting makes it okay.

For the most part we fly because we want to.

Not all that many medical emergencies or world-changing events facilitated by our physical presence.This intro got rather long, we'll post the teleconferencing story above. Thanks for getting through the jeremiad, here's some good writing.

The Agonies of Food Inflation: Fuel for the body and the car

SHARING pain is usually deemed a good thing. So advocates of dishing out agony will be gladdened that the wallet-crunching pangs of car drivers filling up with petrol are now equalled by the wince-inducing stabs felt by shoppers piling up their supermarket trolleys. As oil prices stay high, wheat prices hit an all-time peak of over $7.50 a bushel for December delivery at the end of trading in Chicago on Thursday August 23rd.

The soaring prices of bushels and barrels are not unconnected. The cost of agricultural commodities, just like oil and metals, has gone up sharply over the past couple of years. Aside from wheat, the prices of corn, rice and barley have all risen by over a third since 2005. Food prices around the world are rising so quickly that a new term has been coined to describe the ballooning price of breakfast staples and dinner-time favourites: agflation.

The latest spike in wheat prices has come in response to news that Canada’s crop could be reduced by roughly a fifth this year after bad weather hit the world’s second-largest exporter. This sent countries that rely on imported wheat, such as Japan and Taiwan, scampering to the market to secure supplies. Whether climate change is to blame for Canada’s poor summer is unclear but its underlying pressure on prices is in less doubt....MORE

Biofuels may wipe out UK wheat exports

LONDON, June 29 (Reuters) - Surging demand for British grain around 2010 as major bioethanol plants come on line will wipe out the UK's wheat exports unless there is a big jump in output by domestic farmers. "They (bioethanol plants) are positioned so they can take imports, which are sensible. We are not far from wiping out the exportable surplus," said Mark Isaacson, chief executive of farmer cooperative Fengrain. Britain's wheat outlook has been transformed
this week by news that UK oil major BP Plc , Associated British Foods Plc and U.S. chemical company DuPont plan to build a bioethanol plant in Hull, northeast England.