This is what global scientists and economists said over a decade ago when the DOD told us this weather research was about changing global weather patterns to slow or stop global warming. We have always known such projects could not be done because there is not enough money or resources to do that for centuries and thousands of years. So, we know it is simply WEATHER AS militarized weapon and it will be turned on WE THE PEOPLE TRYING TO BE SOVEREIGN CITIZENS.
We want to look at my last post of a woman from India telling us why the GREEN REVOLUTION from Reagan era 1980s was not environmentalism or about installing stable agriculture ---it was about imploding our food security and grabbing land. Remember, Kissinger said CONTROL THE ENERGY CONTROL NATIONS--CONTROL THE FOOD CONTROL PEOPLE. That was in the 1970s and GREEN REVOLUTION came right after with policies building BIG AG AND BIG MEAT----this was when the far-right CO-0PTED the left-leaning REAL environmental movement calling all its right-leaning corporate agriculture GREEN. Global agriculture has had stock markets/trading markets for thousands of years. What REAGAN/CLINTON did was place food commodity on steroids----meaning people entered agriculture to MAXIMIZE PROFITS AND ACCUMULATE WEALTH ANYWAY THEY CAN. Small farmers for that same thousands of years simply wanted to plant enough crops to feed a family and sell products enough to maintain a quality of life. Farmers would not do to the land what they knew would harm the soil, the water sources, or the system of seed to sale. Farmers like my grandfather knew these 1980s GREEN REVOLUTION policies were not good for any of the above just as the lady from India knew.
Now, there were really good people left-leaning and environmental that were doing good things with agriculture. What happened when CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA took hold of this movement in the 1990s----it MOVED FORWARD to being about controlling food and growing global food markets.
The term "Green Revolution" was first used in 1968 by former US Agency for International Development (USAID) director William Gaud, who noted the spread of the new technologies: "These and other developments in the field of agriculture contain the makings of a new revolution. It is not a violent Red Revolution like that of the Soviets, nor is it a White Revolution like that of the Shah of Iran. I call it the Green Revolution."
REAGAN/CLINTON used FEED THE WORLD to grow BIG AG using Federal subsidies while doing this. The REAL global food aid workers were shouting since that time that global hunger needed locally grown food ----not charity. This was about Kissinger's CONTROL THE FOOD in globalization of US BIG AG and with it went MONSANTO as that engineered BETTER WAY OF FARMING. All the time PRETENDING to be saving the world with bad agriculture policies. THEY WANTED CROP MAXIMIZATION WITH FOOD COMMODITY PRICES HIGH----just as they have been these few decades of BUSH/OBAMA.
The Mythology of the Green Revolution
Environmental leader, Vandana Shiva illustrates how civilizations were destroyed in the name of creating the excessive irrigation needed for chemical farming.
Throughout history when evil authoritarian far-right militaristic dictators grab control of governments it seems there are always great famines. Ties with Wall Street bringing our economy to a crash from massive frauds to create GREAT DEPRESSIONS. If one looks at Wall Street's 1% far-right LIBERTARIAN MARXIST MAO-----he too early on brought great famine. That's the food control and it is why brutal African dictators enriching themselves by selling a nation's natural resources stands there and allows famine to take hold at the same time.
That is what GREEN REVOLUTION policies captured by REAGAN/CLINTON 1% WALL STREET GLOBAL CORPORATE NEO-LIBERALS AND BUSH NEO-CONS took environmental policies. In creating and controlling global markets it became about what food brought the highest price and then consolidating a nation's agriculture around that. Nations around the world have food specialties build around temperature, climate, and water. Each nation also built its agriculture around what citizens in those nations would buy. This created the broad, stable, agriculture and meat businesses in US for centuries.
Today, the Georgia pecans and the California almonds are so expensive I rarely buy them. They push them overseas for higher prices. Coffee-growing nations at the equator are now being pushed out of business because other nations are now after that market----and in most cases they are building that market from GREEN REVOLUTION POLICIES WHICH WERE NEVER SUSTAINABLE. So, irrigation and GM seeds allow food to grow where it didn't. Know what? GM is also seeing massive crop failures and plant disease because the science was never tested. What we are seeing is a degradation of agriculture success and stability with GREEN REVOLUTION policy AS WELL AS OUR AQUIFERS EMPTIED.
AMERICA IS NOW IN POSITION FOR A STALIN/MAO FOOD FAMINE-----AND THAT'S HOW THE 1% FAR-RIGHT LIBERTARIAN WALL STREET WORK.
The Great Famine
Citation: C N Trueman "The Great Famine"
historylearningsite.co.uk. The History Learning Site, 25 May 2015. 19 Jul 2016.
The Great Famine
The Soviet Union’s ‘Great Famine’ between 1932 and 1933 may have resulted in the deaths of nine million people. The ‘Great Famine’ was a man-made affair and was introduced to attack a class of people – the peasants –who were simply not trusted byJoseph Stalin.
Madman who starved 60million to death: Devastating book reveals how Mao's megalomania turned China into a madhouse
By Tony Rennell for MailOnline
Updated: 16:59 EST, 22 July 2011
The Great Famine
The Soviet Union’s ‘Great Famine’ between 1932 and 1933 may have resulted in the deaths of nine million people. The ‘Great Famine’ was a man-made affair and was introduced to attack a class of people – the peasants –who were simply not trusted byJoseph Stalin. There is little doubt that Joseph Stalin, the USSR’s leader, knew about this policy. He had once stated in front of others that given the opportunity he would have liked to have removed the whole Ukrainian peasant population of twenty million but that this was an impossible task.
The ‘Great Famine’ – known as the ‘Holodomor’ (Hunger) in the Ukraine – was based on the fear Stalin had that the peasants simply could not be trusted to support his government in Moscow and uphold the revolutionary ideals of the Bolsheviks.
Stalin ordered in to agricultural areas troops and the secret police, who took away what food they could find and simply left rural villages with none. Those who did not die of starvation were deported to the gulags. What happened was kept as a state secret within the USSR. This happened in the Ukraine, the Urals, to the Kazakhs – anywhere where there was a large peasant population.
There is little doubt that the peasants of what was to become the USSR welcomed the revolutions of 1917. This does not mean that they were ideological supporters of Bolshevism, but that they recognised that the revolutions meant that the great land estates that existed at the time would be broken up and that they would benefit by becoming the new owners of that land. Very many peasants regardless of where they lived were conservative in their outlook. They believed that what they grew was theirs and that they could do with it what they pleased. A profitable year meant that more animals or seed could be purchased with the possibility of even more land. However, this did not fit in with the beliefs of either Lenin or Stalin. Fearing that the cities would be starved of food after the disaster of War Communism, Lenin introduced the New Economic Policy (NEP). However, to him it was only ever going to be a temporary measure. Lenin viewed the city workers as being the powerhouse of the Russian Revolution and on one occasion wrote “let the peasants starve” when it became clear that they had embraced what Lenin would have viewed as anti-Bolshevik beliefs – such as private land ownership, making profits etc.
In 1927, the USSR faced a food shortage. This had been brought about by a poor harvest that year but Stalin became convinced that the peasants themselves were responsible for the grain shortages in the cities as a result of hoarding and keeping the market short of food thus increasing its price. He ordered thousands of young Communists from the cities to go to the countryside and seize grain. This was the start of a policy, known as the ‘Great Turn’ that left millions to starve.
Stalin developed a win-win strategy. If a peasant handed over his surplus grain, the state would get what it wanted. Any who did not were labelled ‘kulaks’ and, therefore, were ‘enemies of the state’ and suitably punished – along with their grain being confiscated.
Collectivisation was introduced to restructure the USSR’s agriculture. However, it soon became clear that this policy was not going to end the grain shortage. Stalin blamed the kulaks and ordered “the destruction of the kulaks as a class.” No one was quite sure as to what determined a ‘kulak’ but no one in Moscow was willing to raise this issue with Stalin. The kulaks were divided into three groups; those to be killed immediately, those to be sent to prison and those to be deported to Siberia or Russian Asia. The third category alone consisted of about 150,000 households, one million people. Stalin believed that such a brutal policy would persuade others in agricultural regions to accept the rule of Moscow and that resistance would end. Stalin wrote to Molotov, “We must break the back of the peasantry.”
The deportations started in 1930 but sparked off numerous localised rebellions. These were brutally suppressed by the NKVD, the forerunner of the KGB, and when it became clear that the peasants and the government were effectively at war, the peasants responded by slaughtering their animals (26 million cattle and 15 million horses) and destroying what grain they had. This confirmed in the mind of Stalin what he had long thought – that the peasants could not be trusted and that they had to be eradicated or brought to heel.
This clash between Moscow and the agricultural regions occurred in the Ukraine, north Caucasus, the Volga, southern Russia and central Russian Asia.
By December 1931, famine was rife throughout these regions. Nothing had been put in place by the government to help out those it affected. In fact, on June 6th, 1932, Stalin ordered that there should be “no deviation” regarding his policies.
Stalin refused to recognise the enormity of what he was doing even to the Politburo. When he was challenged at one meeting to tell the truth, he told his accuser to become a writer so that he could continue writing fables. He even accused the head of the Bolsheviks in the Ukraine of being soft on peasants when this commander asked Stalin to provide his troops with more grain as they were starving.
Throughout the whole era of the famine there is no evidence that Stalin was willing to change his policy by any degree. He even introduced the Misappropriation of Socialist Property Law – this stated that anyone caught stealing just one husk of grain was to be shot. Internal travel within the USSR was made all but impossible as the government had total control over the issuing of the internal passports that were needed to travel. Stalin labelled the peasants ‘saboteurs’ who wanted to bring down the Soviet government.
No one will ever know for sure how many died. However, it is generally accepted that within the Ukraine between 4 and 5 million died; one million died in Kazakhstan; another million in the north Caucasus and the Volga and two million in other regions. Over five million households were affected either by deportation, prison or executions.
We spent the week talking about environmental issues leading to global warming and one of the top issues is the attack on our fresh water sources. The other was the massive amounts of fertilizers that went for growing global BIG AG agriculture----all to maximize profits through global markets. Putting developing nation farmers and our US small farmers out of business so US industrial agriculture could earn billions.
This is where the 99% of Americans are now divided. Global and regional farmers want to keep using fertilizers---they still fight organic farming although we are seeing more local, community gardens. When I listen to a Washington DC MICHELLE RHEE global corporate educator saying he wants to have our school children riding computer driven tractors we are going the wrong way and our K-12 educators are MOVING FORWARD teaching our children to keep these global farming policies going. What is worse----Trans Pacific Trade Pact and trade treaties are still pushing nations overseas to allow Monsanto and Industrial farming in take their nations' agriculture.
Nations start having food scarcity when small farming and familiy farmers are pushed off their lands----that is the beginning of FOOD CONTROL POLICIES. That is what CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA have been doing in the US and overseas for decades.
THE 99% CAN AGREE THAT AT LEAST SMALL FARMS AND FAMILY FARMS ARE BETTER THAN INDUSTRIAL FARMING. I THINK WE CAN AGREE THAT LESS FERTILIZATION IS BETTER IF ONE IS NOT AN ORGANIC FARMER.
Fertilizers are a big part of carbon increases and growing global warming. We are not even mentioning the terrible public health issues our farm workers have been dealing with for decades. GM seeds bring new public health dangers. FDR social democratic policies had laws promoting small farming, water and land conservation, and regulations keeping farming from going INDUSTRIAL just for what has occurred today in agriculture----the laws are there-----CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA are simply ignoring them.
NOW WE HAVE A GREEN REVOLUTION IN ENERGY AGAIN, NOT A REAL GREEN POLICY.
The 1960s "Green Revolution" was wrong - but we can get it right
Blogpost by Kumi Naidoo - 2013-09-24 at 8:01 Add comment
The following is an excerpt from our report 'Chinese Herbs: Elixir of Health or Pesticide Cocktail?', which can be read in full here.
The so-called "Green Revolution" that William Gaud, Former Director of the US Agency for International Development, was so strongly advocating, includes the extensive use of insecticides, fungicides, herbicides, synthetic fertilizers, large-scale irrigation, increased used of fossil-fuels and mono- cropping of hybrid seeds. The "Green Revolution" started after the Second World War and seemed to work increasing food production. However, it also created a greater dependency of farmers on using more and more chemical inputs while damaging the environment and threatening our health.
A recent report from Greenpeace documents - once more - the ugly side of chemical-intensive agriculture that the so-called "Green Revolution" put in motion. It is now obvious that the "Green Revolution" failed because increases in crop production came with massive destruction in agricultural landscapes:
chemical pollution, contaminated water, soil and food.
Pesticides in particular, are linked to declines in biodiversity, (including birds, amphibians and now bees), detrimental pest infestation, increased economic burden for farmers, contamination of water, soil, and severe contamination of our food. In addition, the number of people undernourished is heading rapidly towards one billion despite the fact that the quantity of food calories available exceeds what is needed now and in the future to feed everyone. To end hunger we need to address food inequality and food waste.
Chemical agriculture promoters will continue to intimidate - "use chemicals or starve" - but this approach was and continues to be untrue: a dangerous lie. In fact, studies show that ecological farming, especially in developing countries, can produce up to 80% more food than the chemical agriculture while at the same time avoiding the chemical dangers to human life and the environment. Imagine what could be achieved if the world embraced the existing equitable and ecological farming solutions instead of toxic agriculture!
Faced with the downsides of agriculture pesticides, many responsible policy-makers in the world agree that it is necessary to reduce the use of pesticides. We, at Greenpeace, believe that the world needs to move faster, reduce and eliminate pesticides, and rapidly switch to ecological farming without chemicals. Why? Because dependency on chemical pesticides represents an addiction afflicting global agriculture, with dire and sometimes unknown impacts on ecosystems and human health.
The situation is urgent everywhere and in China in particular. Despite plans and promises to reduce pesticides use, we can find too many pesticide residues in the food that people eat. As can be seen in this report, Chinese herbs used in traditional medicine - that have been so important for the Chinese people’s health and nutrition throughout history- contain extensive pesticides residue (including multiple pesticides and too often ... illegal and very dangerous ones).
China can become a leader in ecological agriculture and can resolve the pesticide crisis. China and the world need a true "Green Revolution", but this time it has to be ecological farming without chemicals!
We can blame the globalization of our US food supply for those high prices as well. Our US industrial farmers get those big earnings from a hyper-Wall Street global commodities market that has citizens in China buying stock on US agriculture. The FARM BILL just passed last year moved farm produce further to market pricing by ending farm subsidies for farmers and creating a category of CROP INSURANCE. That crop insurance is of course sold as Wall Street bundled tranches. So, our entire industrial food system has been hyper-linked to Wall Street at the same time weather and water are going to cause food crises.....THE WORST AGRICULTURE POLICY ANYONE COULD PASS.
How Goldman Sachs Created the Food Crisis
Don't blame American appetites, rising oil prices, or genetically modified crops for rising food prices. Wall Street's at fault for the spiraling cost of food.
- By Frederick Kaufman
- April 27, 2011
Demand and supply certainly matter. But there’s another reason why food across the world has become so expensive: Wall Street greed.
It took the brilliant minds of Goldman Sachs to realize the simple truth that nothing is more valuable than our daily bread. And where there’s value, there’s money to be made. In 1991, Goldman bankers, led by their prescient president Gary Cohn, came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat. They weighted the investment value of each element, blended and commingled the parts into sums, then reduced what had been a complicated collection of real things into a mathematical formula that could be expressed as a single manifestation, to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI).
For just under a decade, the GSCI remained a relatively static investment vehicle, as bankers remained more interested in risk and collateralized debt than in anything that could be literally sowed or reaped. Then, in 1999, the Commodities Futures Trading Commission deregulated futures markets. All of a sudden, bankers could take as large a position in grains as they liked, an opportunity that had, since the Great Depression, only been available to those who actually had something to do with the production of our food.
Change was coming to the great grain exchanges of Chicago, Minneapolis, and Kansas City — which for 150 years had helped to moderate the peaks and valleys of global food prices. Farming may seem bucolic, but it is an inherently volatile industry, subject to the vicissitudes of weather, disease, and disaster. The grain futures trading system pioneered after the American Civil War by the founders of Archer Daniels Midland, General Mills, and Pillsbury helped to establish America as a financial juggernaut to rival and eventually surpass Europe. The grain markets also insulated American farmers and millers from the inherent risks of their profession. The basic idea was the "forward contract," an agreement between sellers and buyers of wheat for a reasonable bushel price — even before that bushel had been grown. Not only did a grain "future" help to keep the price of a loaf of bread at the bakery — or later, the supermarket — stable, but the market allowed farmers to hedge against lean times, and to invest in their farms and businesses. The result: Over the course of the 20th century, the real price of wheat decreased (despite a hiccup or two, particularly during the 1970s inflationary spiral), spurring the development of American agribusiness. After World War II, the United States was routinely producing a grain surplus, which became an essential element of its Cold War political, economic, and humanitarian strategies — not to mention the fact that American grain fed millions of hungry people across the world.
Futures markets traditionally included two kinds of players. On one side were the farmers, the millers, and the warehousemen, market players who have a real, physical stake in wheat. This group not only includes corn growers in Iowa or wheat farmers in Nebraska, but major multinational corporations like Pizza Hut, Kraft, Nestlé, Sara Lee, Tyson Foods, and McDonald’s — whose New York Stock Exchange shares rise and fall on their ability to bring food to peoples’ car windows, doorsteps, and supermarket shelves at competitive prices. These market participants are called "bona fide" hedgers, because they actually need to buy and sell cereals.
On the other side is the speculator. The speculator neither produces nor consumes corn or soy or wheat, and wouldn’t have a place to put the 20 tons of cereal he might buy at any given moment if ever it were delivered. Speculators make money through traditional market behavior, the arbitrage of buying low and selling high. And the physical stakeholders in grain futures have as a general rule welcomed traditional speculators to their market, for their endless stream of buy and sell orders gives the market its liquidity and provides bona fide hedgers a way to manage risk by allowing them to sell and buy just as they pleased.
But Goldman’s index perverted the symmetry of this system. The structure of the GSCI paid no heed to the centuries-old buy-sell/sell-buy patterns. This newfangled derivative product was "long only," which meant the product was constructed to buy commodities, and only buy. At the bottom of this "long-only" strategy lay an intent to transform an investment in commodities (previously the purview of specialists) into something that looked a great deal like an investment in a stock — the kind of asset class wherein anyone could park their money and let it accrue for decades (along the lines of General Electric or Apple). Once the commodity market had been made to look more like the stock market, bankers could expect new influxes of ready cash. But the long-only strategy possessed a flaw, at least for those of us who eat. The GSCI did not include a mechanism to sell or "short" a commodity.
This imbalance undermined the innate structure of the commodities markets, requiring bankers to buy and keep buying — no matter what the price. Every time the due date of a long–only commodity index futures contract neared, bankers were required to "roll" their multi-billion dollar backlog of buy orders over into the next futures contract, two or three months down the line. And since the deflationary impact of shorting a position simply wasn’t part of the GSCI, professional grain traders could make a killing by anticipating the market fluctuations these "rolls" would inevitably cause. "I make a living off the dumb money," commodity trader Emil van Essen told Businessweek last year. Commodity traders employed by the banks that had created the commodity index funds in the first place rode the tides of profit.
Bankers recognized a good system when they saw it, and dozens of speculative non-physical hedgers followed Goldman’s lead and joined the commodities index game, including Barclays, Deutsche Bank, Pimco, JP Morgan Chase, AIG, Bear Stearns, and Lehman Brothers, to name but a few purveyors of commodity index funds. The scene had been set for food inflation that would eventually catch unawares some of the largest milling, processing, and retailing corporations in the United States, and send shockwaves throughout the world.
The money tells the story. Since the bursting of the tech bubble in 2000, there has been a 50–fold increase in dollars invested in commodity index funds. To put the phenomenon in real terms: In 2003, the commodities futures market still totaled a sleepy $13 billion. But when the global financial crisis sent investors running scared in early 2008, and as dollars, pounds, and euros evaded investor confidence, commodities — including food — seemed like the last, best place for hedge, pension, and sovereign wealth funds to park their cash. "You had people who had no clue what commodities were all about suddenly buying commodities," an analyst from the United States Department of Agriculture told me. In the first 55 days of 2008, speculators poured $55 billion into commodity markets, and by July, $318 billion was roiling the markets. Food inflation has remained steady since.
The money flowed, and the bankers were ready with a sparkling new casino of food derivatives. Spearheaded by oil and gas prices (the dominant commodities of the index funds) the new investment products ignited the markets of all the other indexed commodities, which led to a problem familiar to those versed in the history of tulips, dot–coms, and cheap real estate: a food bubble. Hard red spring wheat, which usually trades in the $4 to $6 dollar range per 60-pound bushel, broke all previous records as the futures contract climbed into the teens and kept on going until it topped $25. And so, from 2005 to 2008, the worldwide price of food rose 80 percent — and has kept rising. "It’s unprecedented how much investment capital we’ve seen in commodity markets," Kendell Keith, president of the National Grain and Feed Association, told me. "There’s no question there’s been speculation." In a recently published briefing note, Olivier De Schutter, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, concluded that in 2008 "a significant portion of the price spike was due to the emergence of a speculative bubble."
What was happening to the grain markets was not the result of "speculation" in the traditional sense of buying low and selling high. Today, along with the cumulative index, the Standard & Poors GSCI provides 219 distinct index "tickers," so investors can boot up their Bloomberg system and bet on everything from palladium to soybean oil, biofuels to feeder cattle. But the boom in new speculative opportunities in global grain, edible oil, and livestock markets has created a vicious cycle. The more the price of food commodities increases, the more money pours into the sector, and the higher prices rise. Indeed, from 2003 to 2008, the volume of index fund speculation increased by 1,900 percent. "What we are experiencing is a demand shock coming from a new category of participant in the commodities futures markets," hedge fund Michael Masters testified before Congress in the midst of the 2008 food crisis.
The result of Wall Street’s venture into grain and feed and livestock has been a shock to the global food production and delivery system. Not only does the world’s food supply have to contend with constricted supply and increased demand for real grain, but investment bankers have engineered an artificial upward pull on the price of grain futures. The result: Imaginary wheat dominates the price of real wheat, as speculators (traditionally one-fifth of the market) now outnumber bona-fide hedgers four-to-one.
Today, bankers and traders sit at the top of the food chain — the carnivores of the system, devouring everyone and everything below. Near the bottom toils the farmer. For him, the rising price of grain should have been a windfall, but speculation has also created spikes in everything the farmer must buy to grow his grain — from seed to fertilizer to diesel fuel. At the very bottom lies the consumer. The average American, who spends roughly 8 to 12 percent of her weekly paycheck on food, did not immediately feel the crunch of rising costs. But for the roughly 2-billion people across the world who spend more than 50 percent of their income on food, the effects have been staggering: 250 million people joined the ranks of the hungry in 2008, bringing the total of the world’s "food insecure" to a peak of 1 billion — a number never seen before.
What’s the solution? The last time I visited the Minneapolis Grain Exchange, I asked a handful of wheat brokers what would happen if the U.S. government simply outlawed long–only trading in food commodities for investment banks. Their reaction: laughter. One phone call to a bona-fide hedger like Cargill or Archer Daniels Midland and one secret swap of assets, and a bank’s stake in the futures market is indistinguishable from that of an international wheat buyer. What if the government outlawed all long-only derivative products, I asked? Once again, laughter. Problem solved with another phone call, this time to a trading office in London or Hong Kong; the new food derivative markets have reached supranational proportions, beyond the reach of sovereign law.
Volatility in the food markets has also trashed what might have been a great opportunity for global cooperation. The higher the cost of corn, soy, rice, and wheat, the more the grain producing-nations of the world should cooperate in order to ensure that panicked (and generally poorer) grain-importing nations do not spark ever more dramatic contagions of food inflation and political upheaval. Instead, nervous countries have responded instead with me-first policies, from export bans to grain hoarding to neo-mercantilist land grabs in Africa. And efforts by concerned activists or international agencies to curb grain speculation have gone nowhere. All the while, the index funds continue to prosper, the bankers pocket the profits, and the world’s poor teeter on the brink of starvation.
This is what Congress super-sized last year and they have loved every minute of bringing the US down to colonial status moving Americans to third world standards.
This is the legacy of SARBANES, CARDIN, CUMMINGS, AND MIKULSKI in Baltimore and all Maryland pols in Maryland Assembly and Baltimore City Hall----all CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA Wall Street 1%global corporate neo-liberals and neo-cons.
Excessive Speculation in Agriculture Commodities
By Dr. Steve Suppan
Published April 28, 2011
Why the Food Movement Should Occupy Wall Street
By Siena Chrisman on October 13, 2011
Filed Under: Farm Bill
I went to the Occupy Wall Street march last week, as part of the NYC food justice delegation. We carried baskets of farmers’ market vegetables and signs reading “Stop Gambling on Hunger” and “Food Not Bonds.” Food justice advocates came out from around the city—urban farmers, gardeners, youth, professors, union members, and community organizers. The vegetables attracted a lot of attention. Food so often attracts a lot of attention—the New York Times is just one of the outlets to focus in recent days on the makeshift kitchen at Zuccotti Park. What was more surprising were all of the puzzled looks we got from the bloggers, photographers, and other marchers who wanted to talk to us. “What’s the connection here with food?” we were asked many times.
The connection of the protests with food, of course, runs from the local to the global, the specific to the ephemeral. Food justice advocates are connecting with Occupy sites all around the country to donate fresh, healthy, local food or to help find kitchen space. On a broader philosophical level, as Mark Bittman writes in the Times, “Whether we’re talking about food, politics, healthcare, housing, the environment, or banking, the big question remains the same: How do we bring about fundamental change?” But there are also clear and specific reasons that all of us working for a just and fair food system, as the food movement should make the connection between our work and Occupy Wall Street explicit and strong.
In the U.S. today, the richest one percent hold 40 percent of the wealth, while almost one in five Americans is on food stamps. Rampant Wall Street speculation on commodities is driving up food costs, small farmers are being driven off their land, and agribusiness holds monopoly control of our seeds and stores. In this climate, the struggle against massive wealth disparities, unregulated financial institutions, and excessive corporate power is our struggle as well. Two points in the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City address the food system. While barely scratching the surface of the potential connections, the protesters have provided an important opening for the food movement. Will we seize it?
Speculation Drives up Food Costs
At the most obvious level, as the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy recently wrote, “Wall Street deregulation has not only made the stock market extremely volatile, it has increased prices and price volatility in agricultural markets.” That is, the relationship between government and Wall Street firms has turned food into commodity like any other, subject to the whims of the market. For decades, only people directly involved in agriculture (e.g., farmers) could freely participate in trade of futures of agricultural commodities (e.g., corn, soy, wheat). Outside speculators were allowed into these markets but with strictly enforced limits to how much they could buy. Futures trading served a practical purpose, giving farmers a guaranteed price for future harvests, and prices stayed relatively stable and reasonable for both buyers and sellers.
But in 2000, a wave of industry-backed deregulation raised and then removed these limits on speculation, which opened commodity markets to a flood of new players—these later included funds controlled by some of the biggest Wall Street firms looking for new investment opportunities after the housing bubble burst. Flooded with new investments unconnected to any direct stake in crop prices, in 2008, the commodity markets exploded, driving up grain prices worldwide. The grain price spikes were catastrophic for millions of people worldwide. Farmers, who sometimes benefit from high grain prices, mostly were no better off, because similarly skyrocketing energy prices also drove up prices of agricultural inputs.
In 2008 and 2009, the UN estimated that an additional 130 million people were driven into hunger by the food price bubble. Spontaneous food riots broke out in dozens of countries where chronic hunger is a reality. Today’s Wall Street protests are not unconnected to those; the effects of food and energy speculation continue in 2011. A study in June by University of Massachusetts Amherst professor Robert Pollin estimates that U.S. gasoline prices are $0.83 higher per gallon due to Wall Street speculation. The CEO of ExxonMobil said he estimates prices are $1.20 to $1.40 higher per gallon. And food commodity prices are as high, or higher, than they were in 2008—while 46 million Americans are now living below the poverty line, struggling with basic expenses like food.
A New Colonialism
Wall Street firms aren’t just gambling on food prices, they have begun speculating on land as well. Alerted to the potential market in agriculture, investors are buying up huge parcels of farmland all over the world, displacing the occupants, and converting subsistence production to cash crops—or, worse, simply leaving the land fallow and waiting for its value to increase. According to international NGO GRAIN, which first reported on this trend in 2008, more than 50 million hectares of land has been transferred from farmers to corporations since 2009. “Land grabs” have affected tens of thousands of people around the world who have been driven off their land–often violently–with little or no compensation, given no say in the process, and left with no recourse. For most of them, land is their livelihood; without it, the future is bleak.
Land grabs are perpetrated by governments, private sector corporations, pension funds, and university endowments–as well as by banks and international finance groups. Some of these deals have a stated agenda of food security in the buyer country–at the expense of food security of those moved off the land–but many others are purely business deals, seeking to profit off of land on which millions of people are merely trying to feed themselves.
Too Big to Feed Us
Meanwhile, U.S. agribusiness is getting bigger and bigger, and, like the financial sector, is subject to less and less government regulation or oversight. When the top four companies in any industry control over 50 percent of the market, that industry is at risk of being controlled by a monopoly. Right now, the top four companies control 85 percent of the nation’s beef, 70 percent of pork, and 60 percent of the nation’s poultry. Monsanto holds patents on 80 percent of corn seed.
On the grocery store side, Walmart didn’t even sell groceries twenty years ago, but it now controls nearly 30 percent of the US retail grocery market–and over 50 percent in many regional markets. A marketplace dominated by just a few players is subject to abuse of all kinds. Grain farmers, for example, are suffering: With often only one seller of inputs and one buyer for their crops (which is frequently the same company), they are forced to accept both prices, even if it means they don’t break even. Ultimately, many U.S. family farmers, like those in developing countries, are being driven off their land, because they can’t afford to stay in business.
All along the food chain, people are squeezed by powerful corporations: Walmart demands low prices from its suppliers, so the suppliers cut wages for workers in the factories and fields; most food stores rely on a single national buyer, so it is almost impossible for small producers to get products onto the shelves; supermarket chains buy out the competition and then close the only store in a low-income neighborhood.
The level of consolidation all along the food chain has reached such an extreme degree that last year the Department of Justice and the USDA conducted an investigation into antitrust issues in agriculture and food. During a year of workshops, the Departments heard expert testimony and thousands of personal stories about farm foreclosures, bankruptcy, workers’ rights abuses, unfair contracts, poor access to healthy food, and corporate propaganda; much of it demonstrating that antitrust laws are not protecting citizens from powerful corporations. The investigation concluded in December; the Departments issued a joint letter in July stating that they are continuing to study the issue. After a year of investigation, testimony, and almost a quarter of a million petition signatures requesting immediate action, the promise of nothing more than further study makes it seem as though the voices of big business have been louder than those of the people.
Many food justice advocates are well aware that to truly create a healthy and just food system, we must also address issues larger than food. At a town hall meeting in Iowa the night before the first DOJ/USDA hearing, a family farmer from near Des Moines wanted to talk not about his farm, but about power. “Industry cannot turn one wheel unless people make those machines work,” he said. “We have the power here, and we need to understand what that power means.”
To change the food system, we need systemic change in financial institutions, regulation, corporate influence; we need a shift in power. For a movement that has long been waiting for its moment, uniting in common cause with Occupy Wall Street may be the way to finally build enough power to create the change we need.
'The point is that these extremely low rates are unprecedented, even when looking back to the last Great Depression. They could spring back a long way'.
It was the collapse of Wall Street from massive fraud and government corruption a century ago that brought FOOD FAMINE. We have watched as Wall Street and the FED with the help of our Congressional pols both CLINTON/BUSH/OBAMA passed economic policies to create this same market crash----with the same goals as a century ago. This crash will be different in that globalization will take down world markets. This is not China's fault----it is not developing nations' weakened economies at fault----it was deliberate economic policy from Wall Street with our Congressional pols and Obama helping that will bring FOOD CRISES here in the US and around the world along with a long-term recession/depression. This will be when land grabs and fresh water grabs occur in the US ----privatizing our national parks for natural resources and fresh water.
Keep in mind----global Wall Street and the rich are protected against this coming bond crash----it is main street, community banks, all our pensions, retirements, and yes, those few millions thrown to create small businesses and startups will disappear as they were never intended to really take market share.
A Wall Street crash always hits the food commodities market hardest. Notice this was written in 2013 the same year Maryland and especially Baltimore loaded our state and city with bond debt----just so Baltimore citizens will be taken over by IMF/World Food/ UN----you know, the International Economic Zone installation guys.
Published March 08, 2013
The Coming Crash in the Bond Market
It is my contention that the 70-year debt supercycle has come to an end.
To put the current financial situation in perspective, here's a long-term history of the debt-to-GDP ratio, which reached a record high at the beginning of the current crisis. It was a dramatic change in 2009, unlike anything since the aftermath of the Great Depression.
The highest the debt-to-GDP ratio had previously been for the United States was 301% at the bottom of the depression in 1933 when GDP collapsed and debt was high. The level became unsustainable in 2009, despite low interest rates. Weak borrowers were signing up to finance houses that they thought would increase in price forever. The point of the chart is that this downturn is different from all the recessions since World War II.
Total market debt includes debt of the federal government, state governments, households, business, financial institutions, and to foreigners. The components of the above total debt are shown below, so you can see which ones are stabilizing and which may be approaching unsustainable levels.
Looking forward, the most important problem is that the federal government has inserted itself into the economy with huge deficits to try to combat the slowing of the private sector. As you can see, private-sector borrowing has not increased, even as federal government deficits have ballooned to unprecedented levels. In essence, we are building our recovery on government debt.
The clear driver of this extreme expansion of government debt that I call a "Bond Bubble" is the Federal Reserve's flooding of markets with liquidity to drive rates to zero. The chart below shows a projection what will happen to the Fed's balance sheet as it continues to distort the rate to zero by extending its monthly purchases of $40 billion of mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and $45 billion of Treasuries out to 2016:
It is my contention that the actions of the Fed, which were started to counter the credit crisis of 2008 with four programs of quantitative easing, have brought us the incredibly low interest rates (aka, the Bond Bubble) we have today. By purchasing so many credit assets, the Fed is driving the price of bonds higher, and thus interest rates much lower, than they would otherwise be.
The black line in the chart above is the 10-year Treasury rate – you can see that it drops with each of the big balance sheet expansions. The resulting asset bubbles in stocks and housing are a direct result of the monetary creation by the Fed.
The growth in Fed purchases will likely continue so that the low rates of the Bond Bubble don't collapse. But the effects of the Fed's economic stimulus decline with each new injection of money.
There will come a time when the Fed announces a new program of balance sheet expansion by asset purchases that will cause the interest rate to rise because of fears of inflation from money creation, rather than fall as the Fed desires. At that point, we'll know the Fed's power to manipulate the economy has dissipated.
Just How Low Can Interest Rates Go?
The chart of 10-year Treasuries below shows that the current level of 2% is lower than it has ever been, except for a brief low of 1.5% last fall (blue line). It is the lowest in 240 years. This is happening in spite of government deficits expanding at a trillion dollars per year as far as the eye can see. We are at the bottom of a 32-year bull market in bonds (drop in rate).
To get a view of how extreme today's rate is, I added the red line, which is 100 divided by the interest rate. It shows a rise as rates fall and makes the bubble of low rates more obvious – which is currently higher than ever.
The point is that these extremely low rates are unprecedented, even when looking back to the last Great Depression. They could spring back a long way.
The low rates induced by the Fed are transmitted to many other market rates, as shown in the following charts. These charts need little comment, except that all of them confirm the simultaneous movement to many-decade lows.
During the credit crisis, junk bonds were the worst performers as investors feared they would lose their money in default. Rates rose on BBB corporate debt as well. At the same time, government debt became the safe haven, and as people moved to the safe haven, they drove the price of Treasuries up and their interest rate down. The premium has gone out of the lower-rated markets, with rates even lower than before this crisis started. It's not that risk has disappeared: I think it is more likely that the flood of excess money is chasing any kind of return it can find, and that is driving rates to record-low levels.
Inflation spiked dramatically in the 1973 and 1979 oil crises. More recently, official government numbers haven't shown wild inflation. Prices for energy, food and domestic services – like medical care and education – have had big jumps. But thanks to cheap foreign manufacturing, we are able to import goods at attractive prices, so overall inflation doesn't reflect the extreme money creation by the Fed. Wage growth is nonexistent, largely due to foreign competition and high unemployment from offshoring manufacturing.
The forces of inflation can easily overcome a weak economy to destroy a currency: this has happened in countries like Zimbabwe, Argentina or Yugoslavia. Once things get out of hand, it is hard to say whether it is the weak economy that causes the government spending and further deficit destruction of the currency, or the reverse. But that doesn't matter once people lose confidence in the government and its paper issuance.
The chart below shows government numbers for inflation that seem awfully low compared to what most people experience. The erratic behavior of commodities is likely to continue, so I think prices will continue to rise.
But even using these conservative government numbers, when we subtract the inflation from the interest rate to show the real return to an investor, we get negative numbers. This, too, is unsustainable.
A Look at Interest Rates Worldwide
I've written extensively in previous articles about central bank expansion, but it's worth reminding ourselves that excessive money creation is not just a US phenomenon but a worldwide experiment. Once this feeds back on itself as ordinary people recognize the destruction of the fiat currency systems, we can expect inflation on a worldwide basis. The similar decline in interest rates in Germany and Japan is the result of their central bank interventions to support their economies by driving rates lower.
The chart below, which shows the interest rates of 187 countries, has some underlying patterns. At first blush it just looks like spaghetti, but if you step back, you can see that rates were rising into 1980. Then many fell until the recent crisis, after which new deviations appear. In Europe, rates went both ways: up for the PIIGS and down for the safe havens like Germany.
And here is a simplification of the above by just averaging the numbers to a single line in which you can see an imprecise confirmation that, despite wide variability, there is an underlying pattern in world markets.
The above six charts confirm that rates of all kinds are at 50-year record lows.
Debt and Interest Rates Suggest Higher Rates Are Possible
The chart below shows the comparison of Greece's growing debt (in blue) and the resulting rise in interest rate. You can see that as Greece's debt to GDP rose above 100%, the interest rate rose toward 20%. Lenders lost confidence in the ability of the Greek government to actually pay back its debt.
In contrast, the stronger countries have been able to accommodate their government debt increase and still maintain moderate interest rates. The United States is shown in the following chart. Central banks have aided the government in managing to keep rates low despite big deficits, by buying the debt. Balance sheets of the world's central banks are growing rapidly to support government deficits while forcing rates to low levels. It is a bubble.
When you buy Treasury bonds, you are putting your fate in the hands of the government, expecting it to give back your purchasing power and a reasonable amount of interest to you, in return for the use of your money. Should you trust these authorities with your money? I believe we are headed for a serious loss of confidence in the value of the dollar, which will be accompanied by a burst of the Bond Bubble.
This Ponzi scheme is getting ready to explode.
Between now and that day of reckoning, you can rest assured the purchasing power of your money will continue to erode. This, of course, means that to make a profit, you have outpace inflation. One of the best approaches you can take is to follow the lead of contrarian investing legend Doug Casey and invest in emerging trends…