Thursday, May 01, 2008
Rice everywhere but not a bowl to eat? Rice Greed
If ''supply is not a problem" why are Seattle area Costco warehouses, and most Asian grocers out of big bags of rice? Prices rose before 2006 due to more world consumption and crop failures, but some believe profit speculation has driven the recent spikes, just like Wiis, Beany Babies and tulip bulbs. Investment funds and global dollars which chased in and out of petroleum and housing have moved into food commodities, pumping up wheat prices by 70 percent between 2005-2007. Bloomberg reported that commodity-index funds control 4.5 billion bushels of corn, wheat and soybeans. That's in increase of one-third from last year, and equal to about half the amount held in U.S. silos as investors sought better returns than stocks or bonds. Some Thailand rice tripled to $1,000 from a year ago, and governments increase demand when they subsidize rice over other food that might cost less. If rice prices are headed to the moon, where would you park your millions? Monthly interest to finance hedges can add up to another 40 cents a bushel of wheat this year. My high school project concluded that price controls and government allocation rules created gas lines in the 70s, but it's tough to enact controls in a world good market when people want to buy stuff just because it's a better investment than bonds. Some people actually need to eat the stuff to live. My advice, eat biscuits, noodles or potatoes, and don't hoard any more than you actually need because somebody in Asia might need it more than you.