Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Hog Cycle

No not Harley-Davidson, although I imagine some econ grad student has written the paper.
Wheat and hogs are two commodities with long price series. We mentioned the hog cycle back in January:
The hog price series is one of the longest we have records for, back to the 1200's. The cycle is:
slaughter begets scarcity begets higher prices begets breeding begets over-supply begets slaughter. It's been going on for a while.

Today Professor Mankiw tips us to a government subsidized variation:

A Bad Time to be a Pig

Chapter 5 of my favorite economics textbook talks about how governments sometimes try to help farmers by paying then not to bring crops to market, an action aimed to reduce supply and raise prices. A student brings to my attention a recent example of this kind of policy:
EDMONTON —In what is being called an unprecedented move, the federal government will pay Canadian pork producers $50 million to kill off 150,000 of their pigs by the fall as the industry teeters on the brink of economic collapse....Those who qualify for payments must agree to kill off an entire breeding barn of pigs and not to restock the barn for three years.