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What We're Watching: Inflation's impact on energy, climate, and… pasta

Energy price surge + winter = ? Natural gas prices are at all-time highs in Europe. In the US, they've gone to a 14-year peak. With demand from post-COVID economies outstripping supply, and winter coming, bills for heating and electricity could soar — and drive up inflation on both continents. Fears about natural gas have, in turn, caused a run in oil markets, driving crude prices to three-year highs as well. Meanwhile, restrictions on using coal have contributed to blackouts in China, causing some exporting factories there to slow production just ahead of Christmas season, when demand for Chinese-made consumer goods soars. More holiday demand chasing fewer gadgets and clothes would mean higher prices. And then of course there's the question of how to tackle inflation while promoting climate change policies that are meant to reduce emissions…

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The Graphic Truth: Are we headed for a food price crisis?

Global food prices have jumped by one-third since a year ago, as a result of pandemic- and climate-related supply chain disruptions as well as export restrictions. While the situation isn't (yet) as bad as in 2007-2008, when sharp increases in food prices triggered civil unrest across many parts of the world, the trend isn't a good one. Food price inflation and, in more extreme cases, the risk of famine will only exacerbate the challenges of economic collapse and mass unemployment left behind by COVID. We take a look at how the global prices of five key food products have changed since the pandemic began.

The Graphic Truth: Salad crisis — Lebanon's food prices soar

Lebanon's economic implosion and currency crisis have caused food prices to surge. Lebanon imports around 80 percent of the food it consumes, and so the sharp depreciation of the lira vs the US dollar has made some staples five times more expensive than when the economic crisis first hit in October 2019. This year's Ramadan was very painful for many Lebanese, as the cost of an Iftar meal — which Muslims break their fast with each day — has increased a whopping 300 percent in just two years. We take a look at how food prices have risen as a result of the plunging value of Lebanon's currency over the last 15 months.

What We’re Watching: Morocco-Spain border crisis, Belarus police can target protesters, no beef from Argentina

Morocco punishes Spain with... migrants: Spain has sent in the army to help defend the border in Ceuta, a tiny Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast, after more than 8,000 migrants crossed over in just two days. Spanish border guards say that Morocco facilitated the migrants' departure, most of whom are Moroccan nationals, to punish Madrid for meddling in Morocco's internal affairs over Western Sahara. Last month, Madrid allowed the leader of the pro-independence Polisario Front to seek treatment for COVID in a Spanish hospital, infuriating Rabat, which claims the former Spanish colony of Western Sahara as part of its territory. The Moroccans, for their part, deny involvement in the mass exodus, and on Wednesday closed the border. However, that seems questionable given that Morocco has traditionally overreacted to any hint of Spanish support for Western Saharan independence. But Spain won't want to rock the boat too much because it needs Morocco's help to stop African migrants flooding into Ceuta and Melilla, the other Spanish enclave in Morocco. If the spat is not resolved soon, the European Union may have to step in to mediate because once the migrants are on EU soil, they are free to travel to other EU countries.

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Indonesia to cull millions of chickens, curb egg hatching to support prices

September 01, 2020 5:26 PM

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia's farming ministry has ordered breeders to cull millions of chickens and reduce the number of hatching eggs to control a slump in poultry prices, the ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (Sept 1).

Rice hoarders cost Vietnam its stockpile

April 18, 2020 5:00 AM

HO CHI MINH CITY • Top rice exporter Vietnam is struggling to replenish government reserves after consumers around the world rushed to secure supplies of the food staple because of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Global shoppers hoarding rice costs Vietnam its stockpile amid coronavirus pandemic

April 17, 2020 4:37 PM

HO CHI MINH CITY (BLOOMBERG) - Top rice exporter Vietnam is struggling to replenish government reserves after consumers around the world rushed to secure supplies of the food staple because of the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

Farming veteran warns China's pig crisis only getting worse

April 27, 2019 9:01 PM

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - In almost 40 years of analysing commodity markets, Arlan Suderman says he has never witnessed an industry-jolting event as dramatic as the contagion spreading across China's hog farms.

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