Monday, April 25, 2011

Soaring food prices a threat across Asia or how Glencore is out to make a BIG profit..

Soaring food prices a threat across AsiaAFP/File – A rice vendor is seen here waiting for customers at a shop in Manila. Soaring global food prices threaten …
MANILA (AFP) – Soaring global food prices threaten to push tens of millions of Asians into extreme poverty and cut the region's economic growth this year, the Asian Development Bank warned in a report.
Coupled with skyrocketing oil prices, the spike poses a serious setback for developing Asia after having rebounded rapidly and strongly from the 2008 global economic crisis, chief ADB economist Rhee Changyong said on Tuesday.
"Left unchecked, the food crisis will badly undermine recent gains in poverty reduction made in Asia," Rhee said in a statement.
Domestic food inflation in developing Asian nations hit 10 percent at the start of this year, the report said, a rate the Manila-based institution said could push 64 million people into extreme poverty.
The report cited double-digit rises in the price of wheat, corn, sugar, edible oils, dairy products and meat at the start of the year.
If the 10-percent inflation persists for the rest of the year, as is likely in the next few months, economic growth in the region could be reduced by up to 1.5 percentage points, it added.
The report warned factors at play during the 2007 to 2008 food crisis were also present now, as grain stocks fell.
These include rising demand for food from big, wealthier developing countries, competing uses for food grains, shrinking available agricultural land, and stagnant or declining crop yields, it said.
The report warned the price of rice, the staple cereal for 3.3 billion people in Asia, would likely keep rising as bad weather cut yields, prompting consumers to seek cheaper but less nutritious substitutes.
"To avert this looming crisis it is important for countries to refrain from imposing export bans on food items, while strengthening social safety nets," Rhee said.
"Efforts to stabilise food production should take centre stage, with greater investments in agricultural infrastructure to increase crop production and expand storage facilities, to better ensure grain produce is not wasted."
Glencore's close commercial links with the banks and are further rewarded by rising prices. The G20 countries have commissioned a report to examine whether the volume of speculative trading contributes to higher prices, over and above more conventional fundamentals of supply and demand.

Inflation is being driven by spiraling prices of food and raw materials. The ministers believe that unsupervised speculative commodities trading may be partly to blame.
Briefing papers prepared by the World Bank warned the meeting that the current spikes in food prices "pose fundamental food security risks for consumers and governments, while discouraging needed investment in agriculture for development."
The World Bank estimates that, between June 2010 and February 2011, 44 million people slipped beneath the international poverty line. It predicts that a further 10% rise in world food prices would add another 10 million to the roll call of extreme poverty.
Despite this humanitarian distress, or perhaps at its expense, there are winners to be found within the market chaos.
Higher prices inflate the earnings of the small number of companies that control global trade in agriculture and mining commodities. Handsome profit announcements have emerged in recent weeks from agribusiness corporations such as Cargill and Bunge.
To capture this value, the giant Swiss-based Glencore International announced last Thursday its plans to become a public company, offering to sell about 20% of its shares, mostly in London.
The mid-May flotation may raise over $10 billion, potentially the largest call in the history of the London Stock Exchange. Glencore's top 65 executives are set to make paper fortunes in excess of one hundred million dollars each.

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