View Full Version : Spengler: Chinese weather on Tahrir Square

02-11-2011, 10:58 PM
....Egypt has no oil, insignificant industry, small amounts of natural gas, and 40 million people who are about to become very, very hungry. Without figuring out how to feed the destitute bottom half of the Egyptian population, all the talk of "models" is window-shopping. [....] What happens next?

Egypt's stock market has collapsed, and its pound has fallen to the lowest level since 2005, with some brokerage-house analysts warning of a 20% decline during the next several weeks. Foreign investors have deserted the market for Egyptian treasury securities, so the central bank will print money to give to the banks...

Egypt's elite wondered whether to take their money and run, the weather in China pre-empted all these petty calculations.

Not until June will we know the extent of the damage to China's winter wheat crop, virtually all its production. Extremely low rainfall this winter parched more than 5 million hectares of 14 million hectares planted, and the next few weeks' weather will determine if the world faces a real shortage of the staff of life.

Hoarding on the part of North African countries, starting with Algeria, has already pushed up the wheat price in the Mediterranean to a 20% premium over the price shown on the Chicago futures market. The immediate risk is that pre-emptive purchases of wheat will price the grain out of the reach of poor Egyptians, not to mention Pakistanis and Bengalis.