Already we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?

The spectre of food shortages is casting a shadow across the globe, causing riots in Africa, consumer protests in Europe and panic in food-importing countries. In a world of increasing affluence, the hoarding of rice and wheat has begun. The President of the Philippines made an unprecedented call last week to the Vietnamese Prime Minister, requesting that he promise to supply a quantity of rice.

Read moreAlready we have riots, hoarding, panic: the sign of things to come?

Confidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars

Consumer Confidence Plunges While Wholesale Inflation Rises at Fastest Pace in 26 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) — In more bad economic news, consumer confidence and home prices posted sharp declines while higher costs for such basics as food, energy and medicine left wholesale inflation rising at a pace unseen since late 1981.

The new reports Tuesday documented the latest in a series of blows to the economy as a prolonged housing downturn has pushed the country close to a recession.

Read moreConfidence Plunges, Inflation Rate Soars

The other oil shock: Vegetable oil prices soar

KUANTAN, Malaysia: Rising prices for cooking oil in India are forcing residents of Mumbai to ration every drop. Bakeries in the United States are fretting over higher shortening costs. And here in Malaysia, brand-new factories built to convert vegetable oil into diesel for trucks sit idle, their owners unable to afford the raw material.
This is the other oil shock. Shortages and soaring prices for palm oil, soybean oil and many other types of vegetable oils are the latest, most striking example of a developing global problem: costly food.

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A PRECIOUS COMMODITY — In Mumbai, Rajkanya Kawle, 11, held palm oil for her family’s dinner. (Michael Rubenstein for The New York Times)

Read moreThe other oil shock: Vegetable oil prices soar

Rising Inflation Creates Unease in Middle East

AMMAN, Jordan – Even as it enriches Arab rulers, the recent oil-price boom is helping to fuel an extraordinary rise in the cost of food and other basic goods that is squeezing this region’s middle class and setting off strikes, demonstrations and occasional riots from Morocco to the Persian Gulf.

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The cost of many basic foods, like at this market in Amman, has doubled. Some in the middle class are tilting toward poverty

Read moreRising Inflation Creates Unease in Middle East

High food prices may force aid rationing

“The United Nation’s agency responsible for relieving hunger is drawing up plans to ration food aid in response to the spiralling cost of agricultural commodities”….

“The WFP crisis talks come as the body sees the emergence of a “new area of hunger” in developing countries where even middle-class, urban people are being “priced out of the food market” because of rising food prices.”…

“The price of rice and wheat has doubled in the past year while freight costs have also increased sharply on the back of rising fuel prices.”…

Read moreHigh food prices may force aid rationing

A ‘Moral Hazard’ for a Housing Bailout: Sorting the Victims From Those Who Volunteered

WASHINGTON – Over the last two decades, few industries have lobbied more ferociously or effectively than banks to get the government out of its business and to obtain freer rein for “financial innovation.”

But as losses from bad mortgages and mortgage-backed securities climb past $200 billion, talk among banking executives for an epic government rescue plan is suddenly coming into fashion.

A confidential proposal that Bank of America circulated to members of Congress this month provides a stunning glimpse of how quickly the industry has reversed its laissez-faire disdain for second-guessing by the government – now that it is in trouble.

The proposal warns that up to $739 billion in mortgages are at “moderate to high risk” of defaulting over the next five years and that millions of families could lose their homes.

Read moreA ‘Moral Hazard’ for a Housing Bailout: Sorting the Victims From Those Who Volunteered