We have an article in the UK lamenting the fact that US and western nation foodies and health food advocates are driving up the price of quinoa, a grain grown primarily in poor countries.
Without getting into the economics too much, the article suggests that rising world demand raises the price of the grain, making it harder for locals to afford this important staple product (again, ignore the way trade works and other economic aspects of this). What I truly “enjoy” about writers these days and pieces like this, is how utterly inconsistent they are with other stuff they are putting out. Has anyone heard of “Fair Trade” and Fair Trade Coffee in particular? In that case, world coffee bean prices had been driven down sharply in the 1980s and 1990s, which of course was bad for poor countries too (in that case the focus was on farmers, never mind that many of them were encouraged by their NGOs and governments to massively expand their coffee production, which led to the glut leading to the “crisis” that led to the Fair Trade movement which of course has no empirical support for it actually helping poor farmers – but that is for another post).
So let’s take stock. Rising (and high) prices for exported food products like quinoa are bad. Falling (and low) prices for exported food products like coffee are bad. So any price is bad. Now we CAN write down a model where both are correct, because the problem with anticapitalists is not that every thing they say is untrue, it is that they wear blinders, looking only for those whose well being may be negative affected in the short term by changes. Of course, I don’t see tears shed for the former stockholders of Woolworth’s or the future stockholders of Walmart when the same thing happens to them, but ignore that for now. And I certainly don’t see any introspection by the writers and anticapitalists (perhaps the same people) about these sorts of inconsistencies. But why should we expect any better?
Many thanks to Rob H. for the pointer on the article.