Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Inflation & System Change: No?

Regimes in the Middle East change because people are fed up with the same old politicians with their same old ideas of stability and making themselves rich while the rest of the people cannot find jobs or are in jobs with steady but low pay while food prices have skyrocketed.

Of course, the chief cause of very high food prices is the natural disasters and crop failures. There is a shortfall in the supply of food and prices rise to ration the supply to those who have the purchasing power to access the food. In other words, the supply of food in the world is now distributed more among the rich and away from the poor. (The poor even with their pooled resources would have have a limited access while the rest falls on the tables of the well-to-do.)

Does it help to restrain demand growth? If slower demand growth will create less jobs or less to higher unemployment, then the poor with continue to suffer. So long as there is a shorter of food supply, the rich will bid up the prices until they get the quantity they need. By slowing demand growth, if the slowdown is marginal, its impact will be much more severe on the poor (who have no cushion) than on the rich (who do not have a cushion problem).

The only way that prices can really adjust downwards is through a severe depression whereby not only the poor will be jobless with no cash but the so-called rich will be in trouble with their cashflows and their investments. Banks will also be in trouble again. This is a shock scenario which is unwarranted. The problem is a shortage in food supply and the solution is to replant the acres lost to the floods or weather. Time is the cure.

How ironic then that it is the weather and the floods that bring about the downfall of old regimes, as if it is the straw that broke the camel's back. It is as if the almighty has decided that the old regimes have stayed too long and decided to give the poor masses a helping hand. Would there be a new regime or an old regime in a new bag.

But didn't sustained rapid growth in the money supply of the reserve currency awakened the sleeping dragon which had slept for half a century, and decided that it will not go hungry any more. Surely China is big enough to absorb all the money that Greenspan could print at high speed for a decade or so - and China grew just as fast and as long. Along the way, short-term money flowed through all the financial markets around the world, awaking stockbrokers and the real estate markets, and everybody suddenly became rich and corrupt without much effort. No, of course, the growth of asset prices are consistent with so much percentage point growth per annum, while wages among manufacturers remained low thanks to the newcomers from China. Global wages threatened to adjust downward to Chinese levels - at least this was what MNCs threatened their workers outside China while Chinese workers apparently gladly suffered in silence of their newfound economic opportunities.

So much water had flowed under the bridge. The global economic depression that promised to surface didn't happen as Bernanke cleverly staved off the threat with extra cash. All nominal values stayed about the same, except for some unfortunate real estate but temporary. The world is saved from a horrible adjustment which had been sorely needed to readjust global and local economic power. Everything stayed the same more or less, except for the food prices, housing rentals, transport charges - all the things that a poor man and his family needs everyday.


semuanya OK kot said...

"Civilization is just one harvest away from disaster", someone said. 15% of world maize is being diverted to the US subsidy-scam of ethanol (that will produce about 0.3% of world energy. The recent failure of the wheat harvest Russia and the current one in China will turn the screws further. The UN rappoteur on food (not FAO) stated that the major factor is market speculation. We can see bloodthirsty cartels within the country.

The most destructive, barbaric and inhumane practices currently emanate from the Empire of Adolescents through its satraps, thugs and apologists. The Patriot Act and complementary laws correspond to Nazi Enabling Act in suspending dissent and even humour. However, there are signs that hunger and destitution are finally waking up the adolescent masses.

The idea that one can and should consume ever more - even food - is an article of faith of capitalism that is now bringing us to face its logical end results. Even if the whole species is agile enough to change course, it is probably too late for the "lords of creation".

Anonymous said...

We r living in a closed system - any changes, no matter how minute & of whatever disciplines, will eventually cause a big effect on that system, given sufficient time.

This is also the butterfly effect!

The only way out is to adapt/change to suit the current theme of requirement.

The best example is the introduction of new specie to a new environment. The native must change to face the newcomer, If the newcomer is stronger & the natives adaptation rate is slow, eventually whatever the newcomer introduces to the new environment will eliminate the natives. When the natives r gone, then the newcomer will have no easy prey & thus need to adapt to survive.

Just like the introduction of rabbit to Oz & NZ. The cost to the farming land is still been experienced now.

So does the inflation & system change that the blogger mentioned.

Nothing is indispensable in this world, whether economically, politically & socially.

walla said...

Strange. Things change and yet remain the same.

We talk about market mechanism being the best to allocate scarce resources. So it made home ownership more reachable by making loans more liquid. Yet the resulting mortgage collapse ended up with home buyers in debt and without homes.

In addition, property and finance markets elsewhere were sundered.

Meanwhile other events converged into the melee. Weather whacked, regimes toppled and food and energy bills presage another impending storm.

The general result has been to reclaim the role of government against the tide of its own diminution in the affairs of its citizens following mercantile capitalism.

But then again the real personalities of those Mena government leaders are revealed in the conflagration, giving government another bad name in today's wiki-leaked world to add to its reputation already sullied for not putting breakers into the market mechanism that would have raised alarms when the funding bubble was blowing out of proportion.

Maybe both public and private sectors are to be blamed. The public sector for not instituting sufficient checks-and-balances and the private sector for being rampant against social objectives whose adherence might well have made the system more sustainable in the longer term for all.

After all, business shrinks when customers shirk so that when we say market mechanism is best, we should foremost remember markets are not all that make a system but only a subset shared with other aspirations - such as elevation of the common man, protection of the environment from despoliation, and creation of more means to earn higher incomes based on enhanced skills and more honest productivity, and while these may not reduce income disparities, they should help to keep the effect of inflation on household disposable income at bay.

We should ourselves remember all this.

Take this example. You are now in a new suburb of Melaka town. There's a new housing area but it's tarmac-hot like Putrajaya. Its highlight, a Mydin superstore, clean, probably the most efficiently run and, denoting it has solved supply chain issues, amply stocked.

A short drive away you have the KDN which is a large complex housing two small passport and ic issuing offices on the ground floor.

walla said...


At six this Sunday morning, people are already queuing up at the passport counter. At seven past, the officer opens the shutters and starts issuing numbers. At eight, the electronic counters buzz. At eleven, the passport is issued and the old IC recollected to be used in application for a new IC nearby. Photo taken on the spot, the new card is issued at twelve thirty.

Going away, you marvel what human will can do. And then you remember how packed the passport office is with some having to stand - just you pass the huge pristine awesomely-roofed complex across the road. It's called Seri Negara and no google image will do justice to its size and magnificence.

So naturally you ask what is it for? To hold quarterly state assembly meetings? So what is it used for in between? Investment promotion? If that be the case, why not a drive-in mcdonald-sort of outlet somewhere more convenient to investors, like in the city where they can drive in, park for a while, submit their one-in-all application, chat up the official and drive off for cendol and chicken rice ball down the road?

While laboring for the real reason, you recall LKY's hard truth interview. And saw how humble his official abode, the one he asked to be torn down when he departs so that others around could build their high rise in an island state whose economy has surpassed that of our whole country one of whose lesser subsets is the state of Melaka.

It is not just income disparity between the rich and the poor that all must be constantly reminded of.

It is also the roof index disparity between the powerful and the powerless. For that index is indicative of one cogent causes of income disparities and gini coefficients.

Money should be spent wisely and in proportion to function. Because it comes from and belongs to the rakyat.

Notwithstanding the imminent introduction of online applications, the KDN passport office needs a bigger place because it has more customers, those common folks whose incomes are taxed to build the Seri Negara's of this land.

Meanwhile leaders should be more responsible-minded and shrink themselves out of their psychological inadequacy to look for real-estate crutches to shore their sense of self-importance. What for a state, so too for GLCs.

When Gaddafi said it was good rain was coming, he must have been deluded to think the sky was for him and not the peoples he had asked his troops to fire upon.

Delusions are a-plenty in desert lands occasioned by mirages.

It is all about personal consciousness, human will and earnest responsibility to humbly discharge one's duty in the most honest way for the people.

If after doing all that there are still big problems, one can then more justifiably look upwards to the sky. Or at Mydin's supply chain manual.