The food pyramid is gone, and in its place is the food plate, which I must say is elegant in its simplicity and design. I really like it a lot even though it will not stop the obesity epidemic. Two thirds of adults are overweight or obese and one third of children (and 90% of the detainees at Gitmo- I couldn't help mentioning that) and it's not because they're dumb about nutrition. Tom Vilsack says the "food icon" is designed to help, maybe it will educate, but the problem is a sedentary lifestyle and poor choices.
The issue is really opportunity, or lack of opportunity, that was masked for some time through government spending. In other words, governments made poverty just comfortable enough to maintain the peace. America is using the same model.
If that first spike in food prices sparked revolt what will the next spike cause? Well, we are about to find out soon. Nations growing in wealth also grow in appetite and that means serious competition over food. Couple this with the current wave of extreme weather and it's become a cocktail akin to a ticking time bomb. Food is such a valuable commodity it is now considered a weapon. It's too sensitive a topic for food to be used overtly but there are so many subtleties; they sound like the music coming out of one of those giant speakers at an AC-DC concert. In many ways this could be the last niche of power that keeps America at the top of the economic food chain (pun kind of intended), particularly if we give up all our nukes and beat up all the great businesses.
China needs to import more sugar as its own supply is too expensive in part due to its undervalued currency - how do you like them apples? China has begun to import corn, and in the meantime Americans are burning through enough corn for fuel to feed 500 million Indians (which translates into 100 million Americans).
Brazil has halted its rice exports.
Russia's ban on wheat exports, due to expire in a couple of weeks, might be extended a couple of months or more.
There was a piece in the Guardian yesterday predicting a super weed would destroy US crops because genetically modified seeds require less tilling of soil and rely too much on pesticides. Admittedly any piece on genetically modified foods out of Europe should be viewed with some suspicion considering their opposition from day one. Nevertheless, if such a scenario played out it would make Brazil the world's preeminent food supplier (Brazil doesn't use GM crops) and China already has major deals and owns a lot of land there. I happen to believe GM crops have been a boon to mankind but taking food for granted is a mistake. Using it for fuel when we have other sources is a sin.
This is the kind of problem that can sneak up and wreak havoc like those tornados that have been so devastating. We couldn't see them, but we should wake up to this food crisis that will first manifest itself into a trade war, but could become much uglier than that. In the meantime, it will stir much of the rest of the world where 925 million people are considered hungry.
Fat and Unhappy and Unemployed
Really, Mr. Obama, you are going to go to a Chrysler plant to brag about a bailout that will cost American taxpayers $15.0 billion and hand over this car company to Fiat on the same day we learn only 54,000 net jobs were created last month? This is heartbreaking stuff by any measure. The smallest job gain since September 2010 is further proof that we are slipping further into the abyss we never completely climbed out of in the first place. It is time for the sake of this country to swallow pride and ideology and really try to wake up the nation's greatness. Today's number brings a tear to one's eye. Please don't go through with this shameful charade.
The 83,000 private sector jobs created last month is 200,000 short of what we need every month for a few years to get back on our feet. While the hype from the White House is that we saved one million auto jobs (a crazy claim in and of itself), we have in fact created 6.2 million new permanent members of the underclass that will be trapped into relying on government handouts. Government lost 29,000 jobs including 28,000 on the local level. It is incumbent upon union workers to address their greed which is causing fewer opportunities for others and jeopardizing our children and the nation. Yesterday Moody's said it could lower its rating on the United Sates from its vaunted AAA rating and many dismissed that as theater. Earlier this week, ADP said only 38,000 jobs were created last month and many dismissed the report as farfetched and out of touch.
It's going to be a disaster for the market today. Even the notion of QE3 isn't going to be a large enough a silver lining to make much of a difference today.