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

As China’s inflation soars, world fears knock-on effects

Inflation from the factory floor up is soaring in China.

As China’s factory floors feel the pressure from spiralling costs, there is growing nervousness in the rest of the world that the Asian giant’s next big export could be inflation.

From air-conditioned US shopping malls to bustling African street markets and remote Asian villages, shoppers have become accustomed over recent years to the vast array of ultra-cheap Chinese goods on offer.

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China’s trade surplus last year reached 262.2 billion dollars, a more than 10-fold rise from 2003.

But now a confluence of factors, led by soaring domestic inflation that hit an 11-year high of 7.1 percent in January, is ramping up the costs of doing business in China, with potential knock-on effects for the rest of the world.

Read moreAs China’s inflation soars, world fears knock-on effects

Russia quietly prepares to switch some oil trading from dollars to rubles

MOSCOW: Russia, the world’s second-largest oil-exporting nation after Saudi Arabia, has been quietly preparing to switch trading in Russian Ural Blend oil, the country’s primary export, from the dollar to the ruble. But the change, if it comes, is still some time off, industry analysts and officials said.

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“The role of the key reserve currencies is under review,” said Dmitry Medvedev, the likely successor to President Vladimir Putin, “And we must take advantage of it.”

Read moreRussia quietly prepares to switch some oil trading from dollars to rubles

Banks to Seize Carlyle Capital Assets

NEW YORK — The likely liquidation of Carlyle Capital Corp.’s remaining assets sent the fund’s shares plummeting more than 90 percent Thursday and rattled stock markets around the globe. It was also a high-profile setback for private equity fund Carlyle Group.

Carlyle Capital said late Wednesday that it expected creditors to seize all of the fund’s remaining assets _ investment-grade mortgage-backed securities _ after unsuccessful negotiations to prevent its liquidation.

Its shares, which went public at $19 a share in July and traded at $12 just last week, tumbled 93.6 percent to 18 cents on the Euronext exchange.

Read moreBanks to Seize Carlyle Capital Assets

Empire on the Brink: Republicans and “Free Market” Zealots Bring Disaster to America

March 13, 2008
By PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS

March 12. Crude oil for April delivery hit $110 per barrel. The US dollar fell to a new low against the Euro. It now takes $1.55 to purchase one Euro.

These new highs against the dollar are the ongoing story of the collapse of the US dollar as world reserve currency and corresponding collapse of American power.

Each new decision from the insane Bush regime pushes the dollar a little further along to oblivion. The same Fed announcement that boosted the stock market on March 11 sent the dollar reeling and the price of oil up. The Fed’s announcement that it and other central banks are going to deal with the derivative crisis by monetizing $200 billion of the troubled instruments signaled more dollar inflation.

Read moreEmpire on the Brink: Republicans and “Free Market” Zealots Bring Disaster to America

World warned on high food costs – BBC NEWS

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said he is deeply concerned about the sharp rise in global food prices.

Mr Ban said the trend would hinder progress towards the millennium development goals (MDGs), which aim to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

The UN World Food Program (WFP) and other agencies may be forced to ration food aid, he said in a BBC interview.

He said shortages might be eased by a “green revolution” to transform farming methods in Africa.

Global food prices have risen by 40% in nine months and food reserves are at their lowest for 30 years.

The WFP is facing a $500m (£248m) shortfall in its attempts to feed 73 million people this year.

Read moreWorld warned on high food costs – BBC NEWS