More than 2-½ years ago when I predicted a global stock market crash on my investment blog, even foreshadowing the duration and the severity of the impending crisis by naming it the Peak Investment Crisis, many called my predictions ludicrous and far-fetched. In that article, I specifically stated that the declines in global stock market indexes could easily dwarf the pullbacks that caused a 10% decline in the London FTSE, a 35% decline in the Indian markets, a 30% decline in the Brazilian markets, and 20% decline in the Japanese markets over a several week period in 2006 and that it [was] a potential disaster that 99% of people [were] unaware of. Today, I foresee another enormous disaster with far wider-reaching and more serious implications than even our current global financial crisis. This disaster is the very likely mass starvation of hundreds of millions all over the world.
Below, I've summarized pertinent points of this growing food crisis:
• Though the mass media has continued to virtually ignore this massively important story, food riots, instigated by soaring food prices, occurred in about 30 countries last year, including Haiti, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. Due to shrinking food stocks, leading agricultural commodity exporters such as India and Argentina imposed bans on overseas sales of food products.
• Last year, global rice stocks fell to a 30-year low after droughts decimated crop yields in China and Africa. At one point, during a two-week period in April of 2008, prices of rice rose 50%. Rice is the staple food for more than 3 billion people. According to the World Bank, the real price of rice and wheat respectively rose to a 19-year and a 28-year high last year.
• At the recent G8 Agriculture Ministers meeting held in Treviso, Italy in April of 2009, US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack stated that climate change had materially affected the challenge to feed the world's population - expected to reach 9 billion by 2050 from today's current number of 6.5 billion. As a solution, he called on the G8 to back the use of science in agriculture, including genetically modified organisms, to boost productivity.
• In 2009, for the first time ever, the United Nations reported an unprecedented 1 billion+ people went hungry every day and predicted that this number would continue to rise due to persistently high food prices and the continuing economic crisis.
Though the above unfolding catastrophe should be the leading story of every major media outlet in the world, instead swine flu has trumped this potentially much greater catastrophe. World Health Organization (WHO) officials have currently assigned the worldwide risk of swine flu to a Phase 5 level indicative of an imminent pandemic; if starvation were considered a disease, the risk factor of this hunger catastrophe would be assigned the WHO's highest rating of Phase 6.
Beyond the surface points I noted above, there are some truly disturbing facets of this hunger catastrophe that lie beneath the surface. Given that the WHO has labeled swine flu a pandemic with a recent figure of confirmed cases at 1,316 worldwide, it is no exaggeration to consider a hunger pandemic that currently has more than 1 billion victims a catastrophe. Though droughts, low crop yields, and the spectacularly foolish, inefficient experiment to turn food into biofuels have all significantly contributed to the imminent mass starvation problems that will soon materialize, the truth is that the easiest and most efficient way to address the hunger catastrophe is purposely being obfuscated and hidden by the world's Central Banks and financial oligarchs. Ironically, one of the most significant components of the troubling rise in food prices, monetary inflation, is also the easiest symptom to attack and solve as opposed to other solutions that seek to raise crop yields through the increased use of biogenetically engineered seeds. In addition, though poor climate conditions have undoubtedly contributed to low crop yields in recent years, the real effect of monetary inflation on plunging food stock levels is often obscured by governments through highly inaccurate and deceptive PPI (producer price index) numbers.
Of the current 6.5 billion people in this world, 50%, or 3.25 billion, live on a daily wage of $2 that has not changed in years, despite the fact that significant erosion in the purchasing power of these $2 over the past decade. In turn, the billions of people that subsist on $2 a day spend $1 on food daily. Simple math dictates that if the price of basic diet staples in the developing world (rice, corn, wheat, etc. but specifically rice) rises to $2 or $3 a day or more, more than 3 billion people will no longer just be hungry, but will begin to die from starvation. In previous essays of mine, I have outlined a strong argument for significant inflation in our future despite the persistent campaigns to spread deflationary beliefs. If time proves my arguments to be correct, then a doubling, or even a tripling or quadrupling in the prices of basic food staples is a real and distinct threat to the mortality rates of billions of people. Given the magnitude of this moral crisis, no matter one's stance in the debate of inflation versus deflation, it is imperative to grant consideration to the possibility of strong inflation in imminent years and its implications for 3.25 billion of our fellow citizens.
This is precisely why the moral disaster of mass global starvation that looms in our near future must first and foremost be approached as a direct symptom of the foolish and dangerously destructive monetary policies now being implemented by the US Federal Reserve, the Bank of England, the Bank of Japan, and the European Central Bank. The United Nations, in their press release, stated that mass global hunger today is attributable to rising prices, and none other than former US Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, in a rare moment of clarity, stated in 1997 that price increases are really the same thing as depreciation of the currency. There is little doubt in my mind that one of the largest components of rising food prices over the next five years will be a very significant food tax that is directly attributable to the debasement of all major global fiat currencies. Thus, one of the most efficient and effective steps we can implement to prevent our current global hunger catastrophe from evolving into a global starvation catastrophe is to re-institute a sound monetary system in which all money is backed by gold or silver or a combination of both.
During the recent G8 Agriculture Ministers meeting in Italy, when US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack used this platform to promote the business interests of the biogenetic agricultural industry, such chatter was a smokescreen designed to deflect attention away from the true culprit of this catastrophe - monetary inflation. Given Vilsack's history of well-documented supported for bio-genetically engineered agricultural crops, including his award as Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization in 2001, his preferred solution to this crisis offers no surprises. Those who invest in Monsanto (NYSE:MON) now, in terms of monetary profits, will likely emerge smelling like roses a couple years down the road. Still, a larger moral question than the debate over the safety of bio-genetically engineered food or the morality of using a crisis to promote business interests must be answered - How significant are the contributions of our unsound monetary system to the greatest potential humanitarian crisis of our lifetime?
Given the course of monetary policies being implemented by our global Central Banks, though this is a prediction I hate to make and detest even more if it comes true, the likelihood is very strong today that hundreds of millions of people will starve to death within the next five to ten years. Though many will find this prediction outrageous, remember that many of my predictions that were considered outrageous 2-3 years ago have now come true. I write this article not for shock value, but for the simple reason that this crisis is avoidable if we begin altering our solutions to the global financial crisis today. However, a persistent refusal to acknowledge the primary role of our fraudulent monetary system in creating this worldwide financial crisis will only serve to cement this obscene prediction in future years.
Should this grim hunger catastrophe continue to progress as increasingly seems likely, growing numbers of food-inspired riots and complex national security issues caused by mass migration issues will arise that will necessitate a response from our world leaders. Should this happen, I have no doubt that our world leaders will spin the starvation catastrophe as attributable to every reason imaginable but the true culprit - our unsound monetary system. Should this problem progress, eventually millions of rural poor will migrate to urban centers, driven by a need to earn higher wages to buy increasingly more expensive food. Ironically the consequence of flooding urban areas with cheap labor in developing countries will be significant wage depression for higher income earners and the rapid deterioration of the middle class into the poor.
Historical precedent for this outcome already was already set during the post NAFTA-years in Mexico, when NAFTA policies created a mass migration of poor into urban centers and effectively destroyed the wage potential of the middle class. Thus, this hunger crisis will not only affect the survival rates of 3+ billion people, but it will also negatively impact the earning potential of billions of urban dwellers in the future as well. Hopefully, this potentially epic humanitarian and moral disaster will finally serve as the necessary blaring alarm to citizens of the world to address the equivalent moral disaster that is our fiat monetary system.
JS Kim is the President & Founder of SmartKnowledgeU, LLC, a fiercely independent investment research & consulting firm that helps clients create wealth during this ongoing global financial & monetary crisis.