Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"High Food Prices: An Investor's Dilemma" Forbes

"Finally, there’s the inflation part of the story. Prices at the grocery store are rising fast. The meat, poultry, fish, and eggs component of CPI has risen 25.6% in seven years, which represents 3.66% per year on average. The meat component has the highest weight (by far) in the CPI Food index."

"It hurts! High prices weigh on consumers, many of whom are unemployed or underemployed. Personal incomes are not growing, tax rates have risen along with costs for everything from rent to fuel to food. Don’t expect a consumer led improvement in the economy."

"The following chart shows the extraordinary relationship between the RFS and crop prices. We’ll focus on corn because it’s so important to the food supply. The price of corn was stable – between $2.00 a bushel and $2.50 per bushel – for 50 years until George Bush signed the Energy Policy Act in 2005. That blew the first air into the food price bubble we see today.
When the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 passed, officially establishing subsidies and the ambitious, escalating mandate, prices marched to all time highs. As you can see, they took a breather for the “Great Recession” before racing, yet again, to fresh highs as the drought of 2012 hit. Again, droughts come and go, but when 40% of the supply is diverted away from food production…well, corn prices peaked that year at $8.25 per bushel, a nearly 400% increase above their long-term average."

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