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

Billions at risk from wheat super-blight – New Scientist

wheat-rust.jpgPossible migration routes of wheat rust Ug99

Possible migration routes of wheat rust Ug99

“This thing has immense potential for social and human destruction.” Startling words – but spoken by the father of the Green Revolution, Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, they are not easily dismissed.

An infection is coming, and almost no one has heard about it. This infection isn’t going to give you flu, or TB. In fact, it isn’t interested in you at all. It is after the wheat plants that feed more people than any other single food source on the planet. And because of cutbacks in international research, we aren’t prepared. The famines that were banished by the advent of disease-resistant crops in the Green Revolution of the 1960s could return, Borlaug told New Scientist.

Read moreBillions at risk from wheat super-blight – New Scientist

Derivatives Have Become the World’s Biggest Black Market

Buffett and Gross warn: $516 trillion bubble is a disaster waiting to happen

ARROYO GRANDE, Calif. – “Charlie and I believe Berkshire should be a fortress of financial strength” wrote Warren Buffett. That was five years before the subprime-credit meltdown.

“We try to be alert to any sort of mega-catastrophe risk, and that posture may make us unduly appreciative about the burgeoning quantities of long-term derivatives contracts and the massive amount of uncollateralized receivables that are growing alongside. In our view, however, derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”

Read moreDerivatives Have Become the World’s Biggest Black Market

Why the US has really gone broke

Global confidence in the US economy has reached zero, as was proved by last month’s stock market meltdown. But there is an enormous anomaly in the US economy above and beyond the subprime mortgage crisis, the housing bubble and the prospect of recession: 60 years of misallocation of resources, and borrowings, to the establishment and maintenance of a military-industrial complex as the basis of the nation’s economic life

Read moreWhy the US has really gone broke

Fed takes boldest action since the Depression to rescue US mortgage industry

The US Federal Reserve has taken the boldest action since the 1930s, accepting $200bn of housing debt as collateral to prevent an implosion of the mortgage finance industry and head off a full-blown economic crisis.

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Emergency action was co-ordinated by Ben Bernanke [right], Donald Kohn [top], and Mark Carney after problems emerged

Read moreFed takes boldest action since the Depression to rescue US mortgage industry

Fed Prints Another $200 Billion Out Of Thin Air

World central banks unite to ease credit strain

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Federal Reserve and four other central banks on Tuesday teamed up to get hundreds of billions of dollars in fresh funds to cash-starved credit markets, allowing financial firms to use securities backed by home mortgages as collateral for central bank loans.

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Stocks surged, bonds fell and the long-suffering U.S. dollar soared in reaction to the moves, a sign financial markets saw the plan as a step in the right direction to ease a crisis that has threatened world economic growth. The Dow Jones industrials closed nearly 3.6 percent higher.

In the latest effort to ease a credit contraction that has disrupted global finance, the Fed, Bank of Canada, Bank of England, European Central Bank and Swiss National Bank announced a series of aggressive measures to boost liquidity. It was the second time in three months that central banks from around the globe had launched coordinated efforts.

Wall Street economists were quick to call the new lending facility a step in the right direction, but what’s most needed is time for the de-leveraging of billions of dollars in loans globally.

Read moreFed Prints Another $200 Billion Out Of Thin Air

Commodities Boom Sends French Food Prices Rocketing

PARIS (Reuters) – Prices of grain and milk-based food products have surged in France in recent months due to booming commodities prices, a French consumer group said in a report.

A monitoring of over 1,000 products between the end of November and early January in five supermarkets showed that yoghurt, milk and pasta had most suffered from the surge in many agricultural commodities that started last year.

“They’re not rising, they’ve caught fire,” monthly 60 Millions de Consommateurs said in its March report, circulated ahead of publication on Tuesday.

“Everywhere since the start of the year, spaghetti, yoghurt, camembert cheeses, have seen staggering rises in prices,” it said, stressing that the surge had hit all types of products, famous brands as well as supermarket own-brands.

Read moreCommodities Boom Sends French Food Prices Rocketing

Disappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers

Premium maker Haagen-Dazs says vanishing bee colonies in the United States could mean fewer flavors and higher prices.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker’s business.

At issue are the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continues to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.

That’s because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply – including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts – depends on pollination from bees.

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Bees are responsible for 40% of Haagen-Dazs' flavors currently sold in the market.

Read moreDisappearing bees threaten ice cream sellers

IMF tells states to plan for the worst

Governments might have to intervene with taxpayers’ money to shore up the financial system and prevent a “downward credit spiral” from taking hold, the International Monetary Fund said yesterday.

John Lipsky, the IMF’s first deputy managing director, said: “We must keep all options on the table, including the potential use of public funds to safeguard the financial system.”

By Krishna Guha in Washington

Published: March 13 2008 02:00 | Last updated: March 13 2008 02:00

Source Financial Times

The U.S. Dollar Is Being Destroyed

The global economy is falling apart all around us. We can expect a continued rise in the price of gold and silver as it is becoming increasingly apparent that the Federal Reserve, the U.S. government and even Alan Greenspan are doing everything they can to destroy the value of the U.S. Dollar. In fact, the policies currently being implemented by the establishment is criminal because by devaluing the U.S. Dollar they are indirectly robbing from the American middle class by destroying the purchasing power of everyone’s bank accounts that are denominated in U.S. Dollars. At this point it is becoming increasingly clear that the establishment wants a weaker U.S. Dollar considering some of the insane policies they are implementing and insane things that they are saying.

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What makes this rise in precious metals particularly interesting is the fact that the IMF has been dumping gold on to the market and gold continues to move up in value. The manipulation of the gold market is starting to fail as is the policy of managing a slow decline of the U.S. Dollar without a parabolic rise in precious metals. The rise in silver has been particularly spectacular rising around $1 in price yesterday and it shows no signs of slowing down. At this point we could easily see gold at $1,000 an ounce and silver at $20 an ounce within the next month or two. So why is all of this happening? Let’s take a look at some of the news that has come out in the past few days.

Read moreThe U.S. Dollar Is Being Destroyed

How Low Can The Dollar Go? Zero Value

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The corporate controlled media is finally starting to talk about the economic problems that the alternative media and assorted precious metals advocates have been talking about for years now. We are facing a potential inflationary depression. Independent estimates of the M3 money supply show that we are seeing an annual increase in the M3 money supply by around 16 to 17 percent. The Federal Reserve chose to stop producing this report right around the time when these figures began going parabolic on their chart showing a massive increase in the money supply. An increase in the money supply results in a devalued currency and that’s one of the primary reasons why we are seeing the price of gold flirt with the $1,000 an ounce mark and silver explode past the $20 an ounce mark. The U.S. Dollar Index is now treading water around the 72 to 73 mark and it is becoming increasingly clear that the role of the world’s reserve currency is shifting from the U.S. Dollar to the Euro. Some ask how low the U.S. Dollar could go and that answer is simple. The U.S. Dollar could go to zero because it is a fiat currency with no real tangible backing. Every fiat currency in the history of man has been replaced or collapsed and there is nothing fundamentally different between the U.S. Dollar and these other fiat monetary systems of the past.

Read moreHow Low Can The Dollar Go? Zero Value

KBR Named In Report On Soldier Illnesses

Dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq fell sick at bases using “unmonitored and potentially unsafe” water supplied by the military and a contractor once owned by Vice President Dick Cheney’s former company, the Pentagon’s internal watchdog says.

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A report obtained by The Associated Press said soldiers experienced skin abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections, diarrhea and other illnesses after using discolored, smelly water for personal hygiene and laundry at five U.S. military sites in Iraq.

The Defense Department’s inspector general’s report, which could be released as early as Monday, found water quality problems between March 2004 and February 2006 at three sites run by contractor KBR Inc., and between January 2004 and December 2006 at two military-operated locations.

Read moreKBR Named In Report On Soldier Illnesses

Feds Stage Cyberstorm to Prep for Attack

Government Concerned About Rising Number of Sophisticated Cyber Attacks.

The Department of Homeland Security has begun to conduct a multination cybersecurity drill to learn how to respond to the increasing number of cyberattacks that have been launched against U.S. computer infrastructure and financial networks worldwide.

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Read moreFeds Stage Cyberstorm to Prep for Attack

Despite the Federal Reserve’s efforts Wall Street fears a big US bank is in trouble

Global stock markets may have cheered the US Federal Reserve yesterday, but on Wall Street the Fed’s unprecedented move to pump $280 billion (£140 billion) into global markets was seen as a sure sign that at least one financial institution was struggling to survive.

The name on most people’s lips was Bear Stearns. Although the Fed billed the co-ordinated rescue as a way of improving liquidity across financial markets, economists and analysts said that the decision appeared to be driven by an urgent need to stave off the collapse of an American bank.

“The only reason the Fed would do this is if they knew one or more of their primary dealers actually wasn’t flush with cash and needed funds in a hurry,” Simon Maughan, an analyst with MF Global in London, said.

Read moreDespite the Federal Reserve’s efforts Wall Street fears a big US bank is in trouble