Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Hungry Haitians Resort to Eating Dirt

As I said, this "World of Shortages" I keep repeating will have profound global implications. And since it's food this time we are going to see a lot of suffering across the globe. I began item #3 in '13 Outlier 2008 Predictions' with

#3 Food inflation ramps worldwide causing serious issues and front page news in countries across the world. The US central bank says, really who cares, after all its not part of core inflation.

One example
  • It was lunchtime in one of Haiti's worst slums, and Charlene Dumas was eating mud. With food prices rising, Haiti's poorest can't afford even a daily plate of rice, and some take desperate measures to fill their bellies.
  • Charlene, 16 with a 1-month-old son, has come to rely on a traditional Haitian remedy for hunger pangs: cookies made of dried yellow dirt from the country's central plateau.
  • The mud has long been prized by pregnant women and children here as an antacid and source of calcium....cookies made of dirt, salt and vegetable shortening have become a regular meal.
  • Food prices around the world have spiked because of higher oil prices, needed for fertilizer, irrigation and transportation. The problem is particularly dire in the Caribbean, where island nations depend on imports and food prices are up 40 percent in places.
  • At the market in the La Saline slum, two cups of rice now sell for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.
  • "I'm hoping one day I'll have enough food to eat, so I can stop eating these," she said. "I know it's not good for me."
News like this won't hit the radar until it begins affecting people who actually vote. So while we have shortages throughout the country in food banks [One Lonely Voice Agrees with Me on Food Inflation], until it starts making a move upstream to lower middle class and middle class, in a large enough way - only then will it begin to be noticed as an "issue". And sadly the worst off in the US are far better off than many on this globe.

My prediction after seeing how this is so quickly creeping up on Americans is about a year from now is we will have another government rebate check mailed out to us.... to begin helping to pay for day to day costs of life... minor things... like food.

On the bright side, we bought off some votes in the farm belt with the ethanol proposals. And for the investor class, the stock market should be raging in a year with the huge amounts of money flooding into the system. (econ 101 = fixed amount of assets (stocks), huge increase in supply of fiat money = higher prices of stocks). Always a bright side, as long as you are not in the bottom 80% in the world.

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