food prices

Peter Schiff: Obama, Federal Reserve, Government Have Failed As ‘This Economy Is A Disaster’

Economist, financial broker/dealer, and author Peter Schiff appeared on the Alex Jones Show last Friday. Schiff, who correctly-called last decade’s housing crash and recent global economic crisis, discussed a number of subjects with Jones, including Puerto’s Rico’s recent default/economic crisis and “modest” U.S. inflation numbers. The “crash prophet” said of the U.S. territory:

It’s never a problem until it is. So Puerto Rico is broke, but now it’s a problem because the creditors figured out that they’re broke. Well America is more broke than Puerto Rico. That’s a fact. It’s just that our creditors haven’t figured it out yet. But when they do, then Donald Trump is going to end up being right, because all we can do is default. And if we don’t default, if we print money- which now Trump is saying, “Oh, we don’t have to default because we can print.” Well printing is worse than default, because printing doesn’t just wipe out the bondholders, it wipes out anybody who hold U.S. dollars.

When asked by Alex Jones where all the inflation is being hidden, the CEO of Euro Pacific Capital pointed out:

It’s actually hiding in plain sight because, because first of all, the inflation is all the money printing. That’s the definition. The consequence of inflation is that prices go up. But look, stock prices went way up. Real estate prices went back up. Rare art went back up. Collectible cars went back up. I mean, asset prices have gone up like crazy- that is inflation. And, of course, anybody who lives in America knows that the prices are going up. Look, rents are up about 8 percent year-over-year. Look how much health care costs have gone up. Utilities are going up. Look at the price of food. Have you bought a steak recently at a supermarket? Prices are going up. It’s just that the government is not doing an accurate job of reporting, and that is by design…. The standard of living is going down. Americans are working two or three jobs a piece. And they can barely make ends meet. You know, this economy is a disaster. And everyone wants to pretend that it’s great, because no one wants to admit that Obama is a complete failure, that the Federal Reserve was a complete failure, that everything that government has done has failed.


“Venezuela Is America’s Socialist Future”
YouTube Video

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: A qualified professional should be consulted prior to making a financial decision based on material found in this weblog. If this recommended course of action is not pursued, then it must be understood that the decision is the reader’s and the reader’s alone. The creator/Editor of this blog is not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information contained herein.)

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Jeremy Grantham Identifies 10 ‘Potential Threats To Our Well-Being’

Jeremy Grantham, the British-born investment strategist and founder/former chairman of Grantham, Mayo, Van Otterloo & Co. (oversees $117 billion in client assets as of June 30, 2015), just released his latest investment letter on the GMO website. Writing about the second quarter of 2015, Grantham, whose individual clients have included current Secretary of State John Kerry and former Vice President Dick Cheney, focused on ten “potential threats to our well-being” (echoing a Morningstar piece I blogged about on July 14). These threats are (in his own words):

1. Pressure on GDP growth in the U.S. and the balance of the developed world: count on 1.5% U.S. growth, not the old 3%
2. The age of plentiful, cheap resources is gone forever
3. Oil
4. Climate problems
5. Global food shortages
6. Income inequality
7. Trying to understand deficiencies in democracy and capitalism
8. Deficiencies in the Fed
9. Investment bubbles in a world that is, this time, interestingly different
10. Limitations of homo sapiens

Grantham talked about each threat in detail. I’ll be focusing on those items I think would interest Survival And Prosperity readers.

Regarding pressure on U.S./developed world GDP growth, Grantham wrote:

Factors potentially slowing long-term growth:
a) Slowing growth rate of the working population
b) Aging of the working population
c) Resource constraints, especially the lack of cheap $20/barrel oil
d) Rising income inequality
e) Disappointing and sub-average capital spending, notably in the U.S.
f) Loss of low-hanging fruit: Facebook is not the new steam engine
g) Steadily increasing climate difficulties
h) Partially dysfunctional government, particularly in economic matters that fail to maximize growth opportunities, especially in the E.U. and the U.S…

On “plentiful, cheap resources” being gone:

All in all I am still very confident, unfortunately, that the old regime of irregularly falling commodity prices is gone forever…

On oil:

Oil has been king and still is. For a while longer… Now, as we are running out of oil that is cheap to recover, the economic system is becoming stressed and growth is slowing…

Grantham added:

The good news is that with slower global growth and more emphasis on energy efficiency and a probability of some carbon tax increases, global oil demand may settle down to around 1% a year for the next 10 to 15 years. At that level of increase in demand, even modest continued increases in recovery rates will keep us in oil even if no new oil is found for the next 15 years.

Beyond 15 years, the resource and environmental news gets better because cheaper electric vehicles and changes in environmental policy will enable steady decreases in oil demand…

On global food shortages, Grantham referred to some recent research. He wrote:

I was completely gruntled by a report last month from the Global Sustainability Institute of Anglia Ruskin University in the U.K. This unit is backed by Lloyds of London, the U.K. Foreign Office, the Institute of Actuaries, and the Development Banks of both Africa and Asia – a grouping with a very serious interest in the topic of food scarcity and societal disruptions to say the least. The team of scientists used system dynamic modeling, which uses feedbacks and delays, to run the business-as-usual world forward 25 years. Without any new and improved responses from us, the results are dismaying: Prices of wheat, corn, soybeans, and rice were all predicted to be at least four times the levels of 2000. (They are currently about double.) The team concluded, “The results show that based on plausible climate trends and a total failure to change course, the global food supply system would face catastrophic losses and an unprecedented epidemic of food riots. In this scenario, global society essentially collapses as food production falls permanently short of consumption.” And you thought my argument on food problems of the last three years was way over the top!

Grantham is still not impressed with the Federal Reserve. He predicted:

And what of the current Fed regime – the Greenspan-Bernanke-Yellen Regime – that promotes higher asset prices and lower borrowing costs, which facilitate stock buybacks amongst other speculative forces? Well, this regime, too, will change. Regression of regime, if ou will. Painfully, politicians, the public, businessmen, and possibly even some economists will recognize the current regime as a failed experiment.

And on the “limitations of homo sapiens”? Grantham observed:

Not only does our species have a strong predisposition to be optimistic (or bullish) – it is probably a useful survival characteristic – but we are particularly good at listening to agreeable data and avoiding unpleasant data that does not jibe with our beliefs or philosophies. Facts, whether backed by 97% of scientists as is the case with man-made climate change, or 99.9% as is the case with evolution, do not count for nearly as much as we used to believe. For that matter, we do a terrible job of planning for the long term, particularly in postponing gratification, and we are wickedly bad at dealing with the implications of compound math. All of this makes it easy for us to forget about the previously painful market busts; facilitates our pushing stocks and markets on occasion to levels that make no mathematical sense; and allows us, regrettably, to ignore the logic of finite resources and a deteriorating climate until the consequences are pushed up our short-term noses.

The take-away from all of the above?

• Grantham forecasts U.S./developed world GDP growth to slow to 1.5 percent
• Investment opportunities may exist in commodities, agriculture, and other things food-related
• The outcome of the Fed’s current monetary policies will be painful
• Human nature- in particular, our unbridled optimism and focus on short-term gratification- will continue to result in asset bubbles and longer-term problems outside of the financial markets/economy/larger financial system

You can read Grantham’s latest investment newsletter on the GMO site here.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s notes: Info added to “Crash Prophets” page; I am not responsible for any personal liability, loss, or risk incurred as a consequence of the use and application, either directly or indirectly, of any information presented herein)

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Higher Food Prices From California Water Restrictions?

After hearing about the new water restrictions in California, I wondered if Americans wouldn’t be seeing higher food prices (particularly on items from that state) at the grocery store as a result. Marco della Cava reported on the USA Today website yesterday:

California farmers and winemakers are not likely to feel the pinch from Wednesday’s new statewide water restrictions. Gov. Jerry Brown’s mandatory push to cut water use by 25% in the coming year is aimed largely at water-hogging homeowners and businesses.

“Water allocations to farmers have already been set for the year, so these new measures won’t really impact them,” says Doug Parker, director of the California Institute for Water Resources. “But the new rules will require increased reporting on water diversions and water use.”

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

della Cava noted:

Roughly 80% of California’s water is used by its vast network of farms. More than half of California’s agricultural crop value comes from fruit and tree nut production (around $5 billion annually) and about a quarter from commercial vegetables ($6 billion annually), representing more than 60% of total U.S. fruit and tree nut farm value and 51% of vegetable farm value, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

That’s an awful lot of agriculture that’s getting punished by the ongoing drought. The food garden I’ve started to put together is starting to sound that much better in light of what’s happening.

Adam Nagourney added on The New York Times website Wendesday:

Owners of large farms, who obtain their water from sources outside the local water agencies, will not fall under the 25 percent guideline. State officials noted that many farms had already seen a cutback in their water allocations because of the drought. In addition, the owners of large farms will be required, under the governor’s executive order, to offer detailed reports to state regulators about water use, ideally as a way to highlight incidents of water diversion or waste.

Because of this system, state officials said, they did not expect the executive order to result — at least in the immediate future — in an increase in farm or food prices

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Heesun Wee chimed in over on the CNBC website on March 30:

Sectors that will be hit significantly include agriculture and food processing, said Troy Walters, a senior economist at IHS. Beyond those two categories, the impact will be minimal in the near term. “We’re not going to see any food inflation into 2015 beyond normal as a result of the water situation,” Walters said.

Looking at some California crops specifically, 2015 regional hay prices may not soften as they are expected to in the rest of the country. There’s a good chance there will be less rice acreage overall. And tree nuts including almonds will feel more of the drought’s impact, said Brandon Kliethermes, a senior economist at HIS…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

The consensus seems to be no food price spike due to the new water restrictions.

But considering the enormity of California’s agricultural output, should arid conditions keep dragging on…

It might not be a bad idea to plant more fruits and vegetables than I originally envisioned.

Next week’s Home Grown Food Summit couldn’t have come at a better time.

Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Sources:

della Cava, Marco. “Farmers not as impacted by Brown’s new drought measures.” USA Today. 1 Apr. 2015. (http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/04/01/california-drought-measures-governor-jerry-brought-farmers/70786968/). 2 Apr. 2015.

Nagourney, Adam. “California Imposes First Mandatory Water Restrictions to Deal With Drought.” The New York Times. 1 Apr. 2015. (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/02/us/california-imposes-first-ever-water-restrictions-to-deal-with-drought.html). 2 Apr. 2015.

Wee, Heesun. “Amid drought, some California farmers in near ‘survival mode.’” CNBC.com. 30 Mar. 2015. (http://www.cnbc.com/id/102527195). 2 Apr. 2015.

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USDA: Food Prices Expected To Rise 2.5 To 3.5 Percent In 2014

It’s not only prices at the pump that are going up these days where I live.

From what I’ve seen, food prices keep rising as well (while portions continue to shrink).

And it looks to continue that way in 2014. Ros Krasny reported on the Reuters website Tuesday:

U.S. food prices are expected to rise more rapidly this year after a very tame 2013, led by gains in beef, poultry and egg prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The food price inflation outlook assumes normal weather, the USDA said, adding that the California drought poses a risk of bigger increases in many food categories, and that high supermarket prices for beef are “here to stay.”

Various measures, including overall food, food-at-home and food-away-from-home prices, are expected to rise by 2.5 to 3.5 percent in 2014. The consumer price index for all food prices rose by 1.4 percent in 2013…

(Editor’s note: Bold added for emphasis)

Krasny added that according to the USDA, prices at the supermarket have risen by an average of 2.8 percent annually since 1990.

I blogged about potential avenues for saving in this area back on March 10, 2011, and March 23, 2013.

Seeing that a landscaper is scheduled to stop by tomorrow, now’s as good a time as any to formulate a plan for fighting higher food costs while moving towards food self-sufficiency here in the Chicago suburbs. I’ll fill you in on what I’ve come up with in a future “Project Prepper” post (starting up again next week).

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Krasny, Roz. “Pricier beef ‘here to stay’ as food costs seen higher: USDA.” Reuters.com. 25 Mar. 2014. (http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/25/us-usa-agriculture-inflation-idUSBREA2O13Q20140325). 27 Mar. 2014.

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MarketWatch On Jim Rogers: ‘Signs Are Suggesting He’s Right In His Gloomy Prognostication On Food Supplies’

I started blogging about investor, author, and financial commentator Jim Rogers back in the summer 2007, right after launching Boom2Bust.com, “The Most Hated Blog On Wall Street.” Rogers- who correctly called the commodities rally in 1999- was already talking up agriculture as a great investment opportunity seven years ago.

Time and time again on this blog, I’ve noted how bullish the former investing partner of George Soros is about the sector.

And yesterday, the financial website MarketWatch concluded the Singapore-based investor might be on to something.

From Karen Friar on The Tell blog:

What makes today’s comments more pointed is that signs are suggesting he’s right in his gloomy prognostication on food supplies.

Severe weather of different kinds, production constraints and other factors are pushing up prices of beef, bread and other staples (read: 10 foods eating into your budget). Plus, California — the U.S.’s agricultural heartland — won’t get any irrigation water this summer, despite being gripped by a drought. That should end up hitting consumer wallets, too. And even the crisis in Ukraine could end up putting pressure on grain markets…

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Naysayers love to bash Mr. Rogers and his investment predictions, trying to “call the game while it’s still in the early innings” (the same happens to fellow “crash prophets” Marc Faber and Peter Schiff- just look at the CNBC.com comments section underneath an article written about any one of the three). But I remember a British publication analyzing the outcome of his investing calls after he made that gloomy British pound forecast a few years back, and determining that more often than not Rogers is correct.

Chalk another one up for the CEO of Rogers Holdings and Beeland Interests, Inc.? I think it’s a little too early still to give Rogers full credit, but based on his track record I have a feeling he’ll get this agriculture call right too.

By Christopher E. Hill
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

Source:

Friar, Karen. “Jim Rogers: Want to make money? Drive a tractor.” The Tell. 25 Feb. 2014. (http://blogs.marketwatch.com/thetell/2014/02/25/jim-rogers-want-to-make-money-drive-a-tractor/). 27 Feb. 2014.

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Resource Of The Week: 20 Websites For Finding Local Food, Family Farms, Markets, Stands, Co-Ops, And More Near You

These days, I pay more attention to the source, quality, and cost of the food I consume than I used to (still have a long way to go however).

I have to thank my wonderful girlfriend for getting me started on the “right track” here.

And I was really glad to have stumbled on a March 8 article on finding locally-grown healthy food on the Activist Post website. Heather Callaghan wrote:

As demand for local and raw goods continue to rise, more people are asking – where do I find local organic? Where do I find raw milk and join a herd share? Where are the farmers markets, co-ops and stands?

Search engines are actually terrible at locating these underground hubs, which makes it so frustrating to try and opt out of corporate chains, save money, and build your family’s health. If you’ve ever gotten a bunch of ‘Yelp’ listings for weight loss pills while searching, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve helped a few people find a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) but I found it by accident. So where are they all hiding?

As it turns out, many of the farmers and markets you’re looking for have teamed up with certain websites to be mapped. Use this easy list to find yours today. They won’t all be on the same map, but you will be sure to find markets and family farms in your area that were previously invisible.

Heather went on to provide a list (website addresses) of “20 Quick Resources to Find Local Food, Farms, Markets, Stands, Co-ops and more!”

The websites she posted were terrific (I talked about LocalHarvest in a March 2011 post on beating higher food prices). I particularly liked reading about FarmMatch (“Unique because whoever you are, you can put yourself on the map to be matched with producers in your area”). And I’ll have to bookmark LocalDirt (“Helps you buy right from the farm. It’s also a marketplace that allows you to sell and trade. Got eggs? Sell them to your neighbors here.”) for when that Wisconsin homestead becomes reality.

Heather did a great job compiling this helpful collection of food-related resources, which are located on the Activist Post website here.

Eat healthy, my friends. And enjoy the rest of the weekend.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

(Editor’s note: Links added to “Resources” page)

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For Drought-Stricken Nation’s Midsection, ‘Improvement Seems Unlikely’ Through May

Late August 2012. Instead of relishing the prospect of some colorful fall boating and fishing up at my family’s place in Wisconsin, I was taking our pontoon boat out of the lake and putting it into storage for the winter.

The water level had gone down so much there was only about a foot or so left between the outboard engine propeller and the lake bottom. We didn’t want to risk the boat getting stuck- so out she went!

I’d never seen the level of the lake that low. And I’ve been boating and fishing on that particular body of water since summer 1984.

I have to think it was the result of scorching hot weather in the area last summer and the ongoing U.S. drought. Since I still have concerns about the upcoming boating season, I’ve been paying careful attention not only to precipitation reports in southeast Wisconsin this winter, but also drought forecasts. In fact, the latest “U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook” was just released yesterday, and here’s what the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center had to say about the area:

Off to the East, there are enhanced chances for above-normal spring precipitation from the Mississippi Valley eastward into the Great Lakes region, and moderate precipitation is forecast for the remainder of February into early March. Thus, drought conditions are expected to improve.

Very cool, as I’m not looking forward to keeping that boat stored until 2014.

But what about those areas of the country that were really hit bad by the drought last year? Here’s what that February 21 report had to say about what they call the “nation’s midsection:”

These factors weighed heavily on the Drought Outlook for March – May 2013, especially regarding the large area of extreme to exceptional drought in the Nation’s midsection. Precipitation normals increase significantly later in the forecast period, so less consideration was given to short-term forecasts of 0.5 to 1.5 inches of precipitation during the remainder of February. The 3-month outlook favors below-median precipitation across roughly the southwest half of this swath of extreme to exceptional drought; there were equal chances for wetness and dryness in the rest of the area. However, large moisture deficits are deeply entrenched across the region, and with only one month of the wet season included in this forecast period, improvement seems unlikely.

(Editor’s note: Italics added for emphasis)

Some say “a picture is worth a thousand words,” and as such:

2-21-13 Drought Outlook

Here’s hoping the next report, due out on March 7, contains better news, as not being able to go boating takes a back seat to skyrocketing food prices in my book.

You can read the entire U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook on Climate Prediction Center’s website here.

By Christopher E. Hill, Editor
Survival And Prosperity (www.survivalandprosperity.com)

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Christopher E. Hill, Editor

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