Thanks to the Federal Reserve, the middle class is slowly being suffocated by rising food prices. Every single dollar in your wallet is constantly becoming less valuable because of the inflation the Fed systematically creates. And if you try to build wealth by saving money and earning interest on it, you still lose because thanks to the Federal Reserve’s near zero interest rate policies banks pay next to nothing on savings accounts. The Federal Reserve wants you to either spend your money or to put it in the giant casino that we call the stock market. But when Americans spend their paychecks they are finding that they don’t stretch as far as they once did. The cost of living continues to rise at a much faster pace than wages are rising, and this is especially true when it comes to the price of food.
Someone that I know wrote to me today and let me know that she had to shut down the food pantry that she had been running for the poor for so many years. It isn’t that she didn’t want to help the poor anymore. It was that she just couldn’t deal with the rising food prices any longer. Now she is just doing the best that she can to survive herself.
Perhaps you have also noticed that food prices have gotten pretty crazy lately. In particular, meat prices have become absolutely obscene. For example, the average price of ground beef has risen to a new record high of over $4.09 a pound. Over the past twelve months, that works out to a whopping 17 percent increase…
The average price for a pound of ground beef climbed to another record high–$4.096 per pound–in the United States in September, according to data released today by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
In August, according to BLS, the average price for a pound of all types of ground beef topped $4 for the first time–hitting $4.013. In September, the average price jumped .083 cents, an increase of 2.1 percent in one month.
A year ago, in September 2013, the average price for a pound of ground beef was $3.502 per pound. Since then, it has climbed 59.4 cents–or about 17 percent in one year.
The “intellectuals” over at the Federal Reserve insist that “a little bit of inflation” is good for an economy, but the truth is that inflation slowly robs us of our buying power.
In a previous article, I shared a chart that showed how food inflation has risen dramatically since the year 2000. For this article, I wanted to show how food inflation has risen since the 1970s. As you can see, the rise in food prices has been absolutely relentless for more than 40 years…
If our paychecks were going up at the same rate or even faster that would be okay.
But they aren’t.
In fact, CNN is reporting that our paychecks have fallen back to 1995 levels…
Americans also don’t feel any better off. While more people may have jobs, they aren’t bringing home fatter paychecks. Wages and income have remained stagnant for years, making it tough for folks even though inflation is low. Median household income, which stood at $51,939 last year, is back to 1995 levels.
Consumers expect a median income boost of 1.1% over the next year, Curtin said. But that won’t keep up with their inflation expectations of 2.8%.
“American households, on average, are still struggling with their living standards slowly eroding,” he said.
This is one of the primary reasons why the middle class is disappearing in America.
The purchasing power of our dollars is continually diminishing.
And this could be just the beginning. Right now, severe drought is affecting some of the most important agricultural areas around the globe. Most people are aware of the nightmarish drought in California, but did you know that things in Brazil are even worse? Brazil is one of the most important food exporters in the world, and so they definitely need our prayers.
In addition, a “black swan event” such as a worldwide explosion of the Ebola pandemic could quickly drive food prices into the stratosphere.
Just this week, we learned that food prices in the Ebola-stricken regions of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone have already risen by an average of 24 percent…
Infection rates in the food-producing zones of Kenema and Kailahun in Sierra Leone, Lofa and Bong County in Liberia and GuDeckDedou in Guinea are among the highest in the region. Hundreds of farmers have died.
The three governments quarantined districts and restricted movements to contain the virus’ spread. But those measures also disrupted markets and led to food scarcity and panic buying, further pushing up prices, WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization have said.
“Prices have risen by an average of 24 percent,” said WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs, adding an assessment of major markets showed the price of basic commodities was rising in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and in neighboring Senegal.
If you have been storing up food, I think that you will be very happy with your decision in the long run.
Without a doubt, food prices are only going to be going up from here.
But the Federal Reserve continues to insist that inflation is under control.
One of the ways that they make the “official numbers” look good is by playing accounting games. They regularly change the way that inflation is calculated in order keep everyone calm.
You don’t have to take my word for it. Posted below is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bryan, a vice president and senior economist in the Atlanta Fed’s research department…
The Economist retells a conversation with Stephen Roach, who in the 1970s worked for the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. Roach remembers that when oil prices surged around 1973, Burns asked Federal Reserve Board economists to strip those prices out of the CPI “to get a less distorted measure. When food prices then rose sharply, they stripped those out too—followed by used cars, children’s toys, jewellery, housing and so on, until around half of the CPI basket was excluded because it was supposedly ‘distorted'” by forces outside the control of the central bank. The story goes on to say that, at least in part because of these actions, the Fed failed to spot the breadth of the inflationary threat of the 1970s.
I have a similar story. I remember a morning in 1991 at a meeting of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s board of directors. I was welcomed to the lectern with, “Now it’s time to see what Mike is going to throw out of the CPI this month.” It was an uncomfortable moment for me that had a lasting influence. It was my motivation for constructing the Cleveland Fed’s median CPI.
I am a reasonably skilled reader of a monthly CPI release. And since I approached each monthly report with a pretty clear idea of what the actual rate of inflation was, it was always pretty easy for me to look across the items in the CPI market basket and identify any offending—or “distorted”—price change. Stripping these items from the price statistic revealed the truth—and confirmed that I was right all along about the actual rate of inflation.
It is all a game to them.
It is all about getting to the “right number” to release to the public.
But anyone that goes to the grocery store knows what has been happening to food prices.
The next time you get to the checkout register and you feel tempted to ask the cashier what organ you should donate to pay for your groceries, please keep in mind that it is not the fault of the cashier.
Instead, there is one entity that you should blame.
Blame the Federal Reserve – their policies are slowly pushing the middle class into oblivion.
When scientists start using phrases such as “the worst drought” and “as bad as you can imagine” to describe what is going on in the western half of the country, you know that things are bad. Thanks to an epic drought that never seems to end, we are witnessing the beginning of a water crisis that most people never even dreamed was possible in this day and age. The state of California is getting ready to ban people from watering their lawns and washing their cars, but if this drought persists we will eventually see far more extreme water conservation measures than that. And the fact that nearly half of all of the produce in America comes out of the state of California means that ultimately this drought is going to deeply affect all of us. Food prices have already been rising at an alarming rate, and the longer this drought goes on the higher they will go. Let us hope and pray that this drought is permanently broken at some point, because otherwise we could very well be entering an era of extreme water rationing, gigantic dust storms and crippling food prices. The following are 20 signs that the epic drought in the western half of the United States is starting to become apocalyptic…
#1 According to the Los Angeles Times, downtown Los Angeles is now the driest that it has been since records began being kept all the way back in 1877.
#2 The California State Water Resources Control Board says that nearly 50 communities are already on the verge of running out of water.
#3 In a desperate attempt to conserve water, the state of California is considering banning watering lawns and washing cars. Once implemented, violators will be slapped with a $500 fine for each offense.
#4 It has been reported that a new social media phenomenon known as “drought shaming” has begun in California. People are taking videos and photos of their neighbors wasting water and posting them to Facebook and Twitter.
#5 Climate scientist Tim Barnett says that the water situation in Las Vegas “is as bad as you can imagine“, and he believes that unless the city “can find a way to get more water from somewhere” it will soon be “out of business”.
#6 The water level in Lake Mead has now fallen to the lowest level since 1937, and it continues to drop at a frightening pace. You can see some incredible photos of what has happened to Lake Mead right here.
#7 Rob Mrowka of the Center for Biological Diversity believes that the city of Las Vegas is going to be forced to downsize because of the lack of water…
The drought is like a slow spreading cancer across the desert. It’s not like a tornado or a tsunami, bang. The effects are playing out over decades. And as the water situation becomes more dire we are going to start having to talk about the removal of people (from Las Vegas).
#8 In some areas of southern Nevada, officials are actually paying people to remove their lawns in a desperate attempt to conserve water.
#9 According to Accuweather, “more than a decade of drought” along the Colorado River has set up an “impending Southwest water shortage” which could ultimately affect tens of millions of people.
#10 Most people don’t realize this, but the once mighty Colorado River has become so depleted that it no longer runs all the way to the ocean.
#11 Lake Powell is less than half full at this point.
#12 It is being projected that the current drought in California will end up costing the state more than 2 billion dollars this year alone.
#13 Farmers in California are allowing nearly half a million acres to lie fallow this year due to the extreme lack of water.
#14 The lack of produce coming from the state of California will ultimately affect food prices in the entire nation. Just consider the following statistics from a recent Business Insider article…
California is one of the U.S.’s biggest food producers — responsible for almost half the country’s produce and nuts and 25% of our milk and cream. Eighty percent of the world’s almonds come from the state, and they take an extraordinary amount of water to produce — 1.1 gallons per almond.
#15 As underground aquifers are being relentlessly drained in California, some areas of the San Joaquin Valley are sinking by 11 inches a year.
#16 It is being projected that the Kansas wheat harvest will be the worst that we have seen since 1989.
#17 The extended drought has created ideal conditions for massive dust storms to form. You can see video of one female reporter bravely reporting from the middle of a massive dust storm in Phoenix right here.
#18 Things are so dry in California right now that people are actually starting to steal water. For example, one Mendocino County couple recently had 3,000 gallons of water stolen from them. It was the second time this year that they had been hit.
#19 At the moment, close to 80 percent of the state of California is experiencing either “extreme” or “exceptional” drought.
#20 National Weather Service meteorologist Eric Boldt says that this is “the worst drought we probably have seen in our lifetime“.
Most people just assume that this drought will be temporary, but experts tell us that there have been “megadroughts” throughout history in the western half of the United States that have lasted for more than 100 years.
If we have entered one of those eras, it is going to fundamentally change life in America.
And the frightening thing is that much of the rest of the world is dealing with water scarcity issues right now as well. In fact, North America is actually in better shape than much of Africa and Asia. For much more on this, please see my previous article entitled “25 Shocking Facts About The Earth’s Dwindling Water Resources“.
Without plenty of fresh water, modern civilization is not possible.
And right now, the western United States and much of the rest of the world is starting to come to grips with the fact that we could be facing some very serious water shortages in the years ahead.
So what is the solution?
Please feel free to share your thoughts by posting a comment below…
Do you think that the price of food is high now? Just wait. If current trends continue, many of the most common food items that Americans buy will cost more than twice as much by the end of this decade. Global demand for food continues to rise steadily as crippling droughts ravage key agricultural regions all over the planet. You see, it isn’t just the multi-year California drought that is affecting food prices. Down in Brazil (one of the leading exporters of food in the world), the drought has gotten so bad that 142 cities were rationing water at one point earlier this year. And outbreaks of disease are also having a significant impact on our food supply. A devastating pig virus that has never been seen in the U.S. before has already killed up to 6 million pigs. Even if nothing else bad happens (and that is a very questionable assumption to make), our food prices are going to be moving aggressively upward for the foreseeable future. But what if something does happen? In recent years, global food reserves have dipped to extremely low levels, and a single major global event (war, pandemic, terror attack, planetary natural disaster, etc.) could create an unprecedented global food crisis very rapidly.
A professor at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University named Timothy Richards has calculated what the drought in California is going to do to produce prices at our supermarkets in the near future. His projections are quite sobering…
- Avocados likely to go up 17 to 35 cents to as much as $1.60 each.
- Berries likely to rise 21 to 43 cents to as much as $3.46 per clamshell container.
- Broccoli likely to go up 20 to 40 cents to a possible $2.18 per pound.
- Grapes likely to rise 26 to 50 cents to a possible $2.93 per pound.
- Lettuce likely to rise 31 to 62 cents to as much as $2.44 per head.
- Packaged salad likely to go up 17 to 34 cents to a possible $3.03 per bag.
- Peppers likely to go up 18 to 35 cents to a possible $2.48 per pound.
- Tomatoes likely to rise 22 to 45 cents to a possible $2.84 per pound.
So what happens if the drought does not end any time soon?
Scientist Lynn Ingram, who has studied the climate history of the state of California extensively, told CBS News that we could potentially be facing “a century-long megadrought” in California. If that does indeed turn out to be the case, we could be facing huge price increases for produce year after year.
And it isn’t just crops that are grown in the United States that we need to be concerned about. As NBC News recently reported, the price of cocoa is absolutely soaring and that is going to mean much higher prices for chocolate…
As cocoa prices surge to near-record highs on demand for emerging markets, chocoholics brace for a hike in price – and maybe even a different taste, as chocolate makers hunt out cheaper ingredients.
Cocoa futures are up 10 percent so far this year, hitting almost £1,900 on ($3,195) a ton in March. Last year prices rose 20 percent.
In fact, experts are now warning that chocolate may soon become a “high-end luxury item” because it is becoming so expensive.
Meat prices are also starting to spiral out of control.
A virus known as porcine epidemic diarrhea has pushed pork prices up to new all-time record highs. It has already spread to 27 states, and as I mentioned above, it has already killed up to 6 million pigs. It is being projected that U.S. pork production will decline by about 7 percent this year as a result, and Americans could end up paying up to 20 percent more for pork by the end of the year.
The price of beef has also soared to a brand new all-time record high. Due to the drought that never seems to let up in the western half of the country, the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has been declining for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that is has been since 1951.
If the overall price of food in this country increases by just an average of a little more than 12 percent a year, it will double by the end of this decade.
What would you do if you suddenly walked into the grocery store and everything was twice as much?
That is a frightening thing to think about.
Meanwhile, all of our other bills just keep going up as well. For example, we just learned that the price of electricity hit a brand new all-time record high for the month of March.
If our incomes were keeping up with all of these price increases, that would be one thing. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As I wrote about earlier this week, the quality of our jobs continues to go down and more Americans fall out of the middle class every single day.
According to CNBC, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans with college degrees that are working for minimum wage right now…
While a college degree might help get a job, it doesn’t necessarily mean a good salary. According to a report released last month by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 260,000 workers with bachelor’s degrees and 200,000 workers with associate’s degrees are making the minimum wage.
The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour, and the minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 an hour. Some cities and states have recently raised their minimum wage, but the BLS report defines only those making $7.25 an hour or less as “minimum wage workers.”
And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, median household income in the United States has dropped for five years in a row.
This is why so many families are financially stressed these days. The cost of living is going up at a steady pace, but for the most part our paychecks are not keeping up. Average Americans are having to stretch their money farther than ever, and many families have reached the breaking point.
So what is going on in your neck of the woods? Are you starting to see prices rise at the grocery stores where you live? Please feel free to join the discussion by leaving a comment below…
According to a stunning new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly a third of all food produced in the United States gets wasted. We are probably the most wasteful society in the history of the planet, and we are also one of the most gluttonous. More than 35 percent of all Americans are considered to be officially “obese” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Unfortunately, this era of gluttony and taking food for granted will soon be coming to an end. Thanks to crippling drought in key growing areas and other extremely bizarre weather patterns, a massive food crisis is beginning to emerge all over the planet. If you don’t think that this is going to affect you, then you simply are not paying attention. Approximately half of all produce grown in the United States comes from the state of California, and right now California is suffering through the worst stretch of drought on record. Food prices are going to start soaring, and that is going to affect the household budget of every family in America.
Needless to say, a time is coming when Americans will not waste food so recklessly. But for the moment, we still have a tremendous amount of disrespect for the value of food. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we waste a staggering 133 billion pounds of food each year…
Nearly a third of the 430 billion pounds of food produced for Americans to eat is wasted, a potential catastrophe for landfills and a wake-up call to officials scrambling to feed the hungry, according to a stunning new report from the Department of Agriculture.
The just-issued report revealed that in 2010, 31 percent, or 133 billion pounds, of food produced for Americans to eat was wasted, either molded or improperly cooked, suffered “natural shrinkage” due to moisture loss, or because people became disinterested in what they purchased.
Not that we need to stuff any more food into our mouths. As I mentioned above, we have an epidemic of obesity in this nation. In fact, the CDC says that 35 percent of the entire population is “obese”…
Meanwhile, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third of US adults (35.7 percent) are obese, which is perhaps the best argument that Americans can offset a large part of the food waste problem by simply eating less. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the US was $147 billion in 2008; the costs of providing medical assistance for individuals who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight, thereby placing an enormous strain on healthcare costs.
Since we are such gluttons and we are so incredibly wasteful, we should have plenty of food to share with those in need, right?
Unfortunately, we are also extremely greedy and greatly lacking in compassion.
As I have written about previously, feeding the homeless has been banned in cities all over the nation, and other cities have passed regulations that greatly discourage the feeding of the homeless…
Feeding the homeless is about to get harder as a new policy is set to begin this Saturday, Feb. 15, in Columbia, SC. Charities and non-profits will be required to pay a fee and obtain a permit 15 days in advance in order to feed the homeless in parks.
One impacted charity that was interviewed by the Free Times, Food Not Bombs, has been serving food to the homeless in Finlay Park every Sunday for 12 years. The group’s organizer, Judith Turnipseed, noted that the group has an impeccable track record and always tidies up after the meal. But with the new crackdown, Food Not Bombs will have to pay at least $120 per week for the right to feed the homeless.
Since the Columbia City Council approved its exile plan in August, the city has been trying to herd its homeless people to a shelter on the outskirts of town and keep them away from downtown. If charities continue to provide food in downtown parks, the thinking goes, it will allow homeless people to continue to live downtown, rather than being forced to leave.
What is wrong with us?
While we stuff our faces with more french fries and chicken wings, we have an appalling lack of compassion for those that are not able to take care of themselves.
Perhaps we deserve what is coming.
The horrible drought that never seems to end is rapidly turning much of the western half of the country into a barren wasteland.
You can see some incredible before and after photos of the drought in California right here.
If a miracle does not happen, the upcoming growing season is going to be absolutely disastrous. As I have written about previously, California farmers have already decided to allow half a million acres of farmland to sit idle this year because of the extremely dry conditions.
And it certainly does not help that the government has decided to cut off water supplies to many of the farmers. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Holly Deyo…
Government has lost its mind. It is no more evident than their decision last week to cut off water to America’s food basket. Squeezed by the worst-ever drought in the state’s history, California is dying of thirst. Crushing news was delivered to farmer’s that no water would be coming from the Federal government. This dreaded decision was compounded by the Sierra Mountains getting just 25% of normal snowpack. There is no water to replenish already dangerously low reservoirs, so no water for farmers.
Needless to say, there are a lot of farmers that are going to be absolutely crippled by this. The following is from Fox News…
A federal agency’s recent announcement that the California’s Central Valley will get zero percent water allocation this year was devastating for farmers already dealing with the worst drought seen in decades.
One of the world’s most productive agricultural regions, the enormous valley is reeling after the driest year in more than a century. But last week, the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation, which supplies water to a third of the irrigated farmland in California through a 500-mile network of canals and tunnel, said it won’t be able to deliver any of the water sought by farmers.
“It goes beyond devastation, you’re going to see farms that have been in business 30 and 40 years, they do not have any water, they are out of business,” said Dennis Falaschi, general manager of the Panoche Water District.
If California produces much less food than it normally does, that means that food prices are going to start skyrocketing. Here is more from Holly Deyo…
As one Millennium-Ark reader pointed out in an email last week, after the jump in beef prices, people will look to chicken, pork, fish and turkey. Chicken is already up though not as much as beef. This will, in turn, drive up their costs and affect availability of these other meats. Keep in mind that California also produces all of these proteins plus lamb. Then consider this: Ag Specialists Warn of Higher Wheat Prices Due to Drought. It’s not just beef, weather is clobbering food from all angles.
And please keep in mind that the total size of the U.S. cattle herd has already been shrinking for seven years in a row, and that it is now the smallest that it has been since 1951.
But back in 1951, the size of the U.S. population was less than half of what it is today.
For much more on the emerging food crisis, please see this video.
Let us certainly hope and pray that the drought in California ends soon and that things get back to normal.
But I wouldn’t count on that.
According to National Geographic, the scientific experts that have studied these things tell us that it has been quite common throughout history for that region of North America to suffer through extended droughts that last for a decade or more.
One drought even lasted for about 200 years.
So the current drought in California might end next year.
Or it might last for the rest of our lifetimes.
We simply do not know.
But what does seem clear is that the days of taking our food for granted will soon be coming to an end.
Did you know that the U.S. state that produces the most vegetables is going through the worst drought it has ever experienced and that the size of the total U.S. cattle herd is now the smallest that it has been since 1951? Just the other day, a CBS News article boldly declared that “food prices soar as incomes stand still“, but the truth is that this is only just the beginning. If the drought that has been devastating farmers and ranchers out west continues, we are going to see prices for meat, fruits and vegetables soar into the stratosphere. Already, the federal government has declared portions of 11 states to be “disaster areas”, and California farmers are going to leave half a million acres sitting idle this year because of the extremely dry conditions. Sadly, experts are telling us that things are probably going to get worse before they get better (if they ever do). As you will read about below, one expert recently told National Geographic that throughout history it has been quite common for that region of North America to experience severe droughts that last for decades. In fact, one drought actually lasted for about 200 years. So there is the possibility that the drought that has begun in the state of California may not end during your entire lifetime.
This drought has gotten so bad that it is starting to get national attention. Barack Obama visited the Fresno region on Friday, and he declared that “this is going to be a very challenging situation this year, and frankly, the trend lines are such where it’s going to be a challenging situation for some time to come.”
According to NBC News, businesses across the region are shutting down, large numbers of workers are leaving to search for other work, and things are already so bad that it “calls to mind the Dust Bowl of the 1930s“…
In the state’s Central Valley — where nearly 40 percent of all jobs are tied to agriculture production and related processing — the pain has already trickled down. Businesses across a wide swath of the region have shuttered, casting countless workers adrift in a downturn that calls to mind the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
If you will recall, there have been warnings that Dust Bowl conditions were going to return to the western half of the country for quite some time.
Now the mainstream media is finally starting to catch up.
And of course these extremely dry conditions are going to severely affect food prices. The following are 15 reasons why your food bill is going to start soaring…
#1 2013 was the driest year on record for the state of California, and 2014 has been exceptionally dry so far as well.
#2 According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, 91.6 percent of the entire state of California is experiencing “severe to exceptional drought” even as you read this article.
#3 According to CNBC, it is being projected that California farmers are going to let half a million acres of farmland sit idle this year because of the crippling drought.
#4 Celeste Cantu, the general manager for the Santa Ana Watershed Project Authority, says that this drought could have a “cataclysmic” impact on food prices…
Given that California is one of the largest agricultural regions in the world, the effects of any drought, never mind one that could last for centuries, are huge. About 80 percent of California’s freshwater supply is used for agriculture. The cost of fruits and vegetables could soar, says Cantu. “There will be cataclysmic impacts.”
#5 Mike Wade, the executive director of the California Farm Water Coalition, recently explained which crops he believes will be hit the hardest…
Hardest hit would be such annual row crops as tomatoes, broccoli, lettuce, cantaloupes, garlic, peppers and corn. Wade said consumers can also expect higher prices and reduced selection at grocery stores, particularly for products such as almonds, raisins, walnuts and olives.
#6 As I discussed in a previous article, the rest of the nation is extremely dependent on the fruits and vegetables grown in California. Just consider the following statistics regarding what percentage of our produce is grown in the state…
–99 percent of the artichokes
–44 percent of asparagus
–two-thirds of carrots
–half of bell peppers
–89 percent of cauliflower
–94 percent of broccoli
–95 percent of celery
–90 percent of the leaf lettuce
–83 percent of Romaine lettuce
–83 percent of fresh spinach
–a third of the fresh tomatoes
–86 percent of lemons
–90 percent of avocados
–84 percent of peaches
–88 percent of fresh strawberries
–97 percent of fresh plums
#7 Of course it isn’t just agriculture which will be affected by this drought. Just consider this chilling statement by Tim Quinn, the executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies…
“There are places in California that if we don’t do something about it, tens of thousands of people could turn on their water faucets and nothing would come out.”
#8 The Sierra Nevada snowpack is only about 15 percent of what it normally is. As the New York Times recently explained, this is going to be absolutely devastating for Californians when the warmer months arrive…
Experts offer dire warnings. The current drought has already eclipsed previous water crises, like the one in 1977, which a meteorologist friend, translating into language we understand as historians, likened to the “Great Depression” of droughts. Most Californians depend on the Sierra Nevada for their water supply, but the snowpack there was just 15 percent of normal in early February.
#9 The underground aquifers that so many California farmers depend upon are being drained at a staggering rate…
Pumping from aquifers is so intense that the ground in parts of the valley is sinking about a foot a year. Once aquifers compress, they can never fill with water again. It’s no surprise Tom Willey wakes every morning with a lump in his throat. When we ask which farmers will survive the summer, he responds quite simply: those who dig the deepest and pump the hardest.
#10 According to an expert interviewed by National Geographic, the current drought in the state of California could potentially last for 200 years or more as some mega-droughts in the region have done in the past…
California is experiencing its worst drought since record-keeping began in the mid 19th century, and scientists say this may be just the beginning. B. Lynn Ingram, a paleoclimatologist at the University of California at Berkeley, thinks that California needs to brace itself for a megadrought—one that could last for 200 years or more.
#11 Much of the western U.S. has been exceedingly dry for an extended period of time, and this is hurting huge numbers of farmers and ranchers all the way from Texas to the west coast…
The western United States has been in a drought that has been building for more than a decade, according to climatologist Bill Patzert of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Ranchers in the West are selling off their livestock,” Patzert said. “Farmers all over the Southwest, from Texas to Oregon, are fallowing in their fields because of a lack of water. For farmers and ranchers, this is a painful drought.”
#12 The size of the U.S. cattle herd has been shrinking for seven years in a row, and it is now the smallest that it has been since 1951. But our population has more than doubled since then.
#13 Extremely unusual weather patterns are playing havoc with crops all over the planet right now. The following is an excerpt from a recent article by Lizzie Bennett…
Peru, Venezuela, and Bolivia have experienced rainfall heavy enough to flood fields and rot crops where they stand. Volcanic eruptions in Ecuador are also creating problems due to cattle ingesting ash with their feed leading to a slow and painful death.
Parts of Australia have been in drought for years affecting cattle and agricultural production.
Rice production in China has been affected by record low temperatures.
Large parts of the UK are underwater, and much of that water is sea water which is poisoning the soil. So wet is the UK that groundwater is so high it is actually coming out of the ground and adding to the water from rivers and the sea. With the official assessment being that groundwater flooding will continue until MAY, and that’s if it doesn’t rain again between now and then. The River Thames is 65 feet higher than normal in some areas, flooding town after town as it heads to the sea.
#14 As food prices rise, our incomes are staying about the same. The following is from a CBS News article entitled “Food prices soar as incomes stand still“…
While the government says prices are up 6.4 percent since 2011, chicken is up 18.4 percent, ground beef is up 16.8 percent and bacon has skyrocketed up 22.8 percent, making it a holiday when it’s on sale.
#15 As I have written about previously, median household income has fallen for five years in a row. So average Americans are going to have to make their food budgets stretch more than they ever have before as this drought drags on.
If the drought does continue to get worse, small agricultural towns all over California are going to die off.
For instance, consider what is already happening to the little town of Mendota…
The farms in and around Mendota are dying of thirst. The signs are everywhere. Orchards with trees lying on their sides, as if shot. Former farm fields given over to tumbleweeds. Land and cattle for sale, cheap.
Large numbers of agricultural workers continue to hang on, hoping that somehow there will be enough work for them. But as Evelyn Nieves recently observed, panic is starting to set in…
Off-season, by mid-February, idled workers are clearly anxious. Farmworkers and everyone else who waits out the winter for work (truckers, diesel providers, packing suppliers and the like) are nearing the end of the savings they squirrel away during the season. The season starts again in March, April at the latest, but no one knows who will get work when the season begins, or how much.
People are scared, panicked even.
I did not write this article so that you would panic.
Yes, incredibly hard times are coming. If you will recall, the 1930s were also a time when the United States experienced extraordinarily dry weather conditions and a tremendous amount of financial turmoil. We could very well be entering a similar time period.
Worrying about this drought is not going to change anything. Instead of worrying, we should all be doing what we can to store some things up while food is still relatively cheap. Our grandparents and our great-grandparents that lived during the days of the Great Depression knew the wisdom of having a well-stocked food pantry, and it would be wise to follow their examples.
Please share this article with as many people as you can. The United States has never faced anything like this during most of our lifetimes. We need to shake people out of their “normalcy bias” and get them to understand that big changes are coming.
Why does it seem like wherever there is human suffering, some giant bank is making money off of it? According to a new report from the World Development Movement, Goldman Sachs made about 400 million dollars betting on food prices last year. Overall, 2012 was quite a banner year for Goldman Sachs. As I reported in a previous article, revenues for Goldman increased by about 30 percent in 2012 and the price of Goldman stock has risen by more than 40 percent over the past 12 months. It is estimated that the average banker at Goldman brought in a pay and bonus package of approximately $396,500 for 2012. So without a doubt, Goldman Sachs is swimming in money right now. But what is the price for all of this “success”? Many claim that the rampant speculation on food prices by the big banks has dramatically increased the global price of food and has caused the suffering of hundreds of millions of poor families around the planet to become much worse. At this point, global food prices are more than twice as high as they were back in 2003. Approximately 2 billion people on the planet spend at least half of their incomes on food, and close to a billion people regularly do not have enough food to eat. Is it moral for Goldman Sachs and other big banks such as Barclays and Morgan Stanley to make hundreds of millions of dollars betting on the price of food if that is going to drive up global food prices and make it harder for poor families all over the world to feed themselves?
This is another reason why the derivatives bubble is so bad for the world economy. Goldman Sachs and other big banks are treating the global food supply as if it was some kind of a casino game. This kind of reckless activity was greatly condemned by the World Development Movement report…
“Goldman Sachs is the global leader in a trade that is driving food prices up while nearly a billion people are hungry. The bank lobbied for the financial deregulation that made it possible to pour billions into the commodity derivative markets, created the necessary financial instruments, and is now raking in the profits. Speculation is fuelling volatility and food price spikes, hurting people who struggle to afford food across the world.”
So shouldn’t there be a law against this kind of a thing?
Well, in the United States there actually is, but the law has been blocked by the big Wall Street banks and their very highly paid lawyers. The following is another excerpt from the report…
“The US has passed legislation to limit speculation, but the controls have not been implemented due to a legal challenge from Wall Street spearheaded by the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, of which Goldman Sachs is a leading member. Similar legislation is on the table at the EU, but the UK government has so far opposed effective controls. Goldman Sachs has lobbied against controls in both the US and the EU.”
Posted below is a chart that shows what this kind of activity has done to commodity prices over the past couple of decades. You will notice that commodity prices were fairly stable in the 1990s, but since the year 2000 they have been extremely volatile…
The reason for all of this volatility was explained in an excellent article by Frederick Kaufman…
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.
Are you angry yet?
You should be.
Poor families all over the planet are suffering so that Wall Street bankers can make bigger profits.
Many big financial institutions just seem to love to make money on the backs of the poor. I have previously reported on how JP Morgan makes billions of dollars issuing food stamp cards in the United States. When the number of Americans on food stamps goes up, so does the amount of money that JP Morgan makes. You can read much more about all of this right here: “Making Money On Poverty: JP Morgan Makes Bigger Profits When The Number Of Americans On Food Stamps Goes Up“.
Sadly, the global food supply is getting tighter with each passing day, and things are looking rather ominous for the years ahead.
According to the United Nations, global food reserves have reached their lowest level in nearly 40 years. Global food reserves have not been this low since 1974, but the population of the world has greatly increased since then. If 2013 is another year of drought and bad harvests, things could spiral out of control rather quickly…
World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year, the United Nations has warned.
Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the UN.
“We’ve not been producing as much as we are consuming. That is why stocks are being run down. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year,” said Abdolreza Abbassian, a senior economist with the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The world has barely been able to feed itself for some time now. In fact, we have consumed more food than we have produced for 6 of the last 11 years…
Evan Fraser, author of Empires of Food and a geography lecturer at Guelph University in Ontario, Canada, says: “For six of the last 11 years the world has consumed more food than it has grown. We do not have any buffer and are running down reserves. Our stocks are very low and if we have a dry winter and a poor rice harvest we could see a major food crisis across the board.”
“Even if things do not boil over this year, by next summer we’ll have used up this buffer and consumers in the poorer parts of the world will once again be exposed to the effects of anything that hurts production.”
We desperately need a good growing season next summer, and all eyes are on the United States. The U.S. exports more food than anyone else does, and last summer the United States experienced the worst drought that it had seen in about 50 years. That drought left deep scars all over the country. The following is from a recent Rolling Stone article…
In 2012, more than 9 million acres went up in flames in this country. Only dredging and some eleventh-hour rain kept the mighty Mississippi River from being shut down to navigation due to low water levels; continuing drought conditions make “long-term stabilization” of river levels unlikely in the near future. Several of the Great Lakes are soon expected to hit their lowest levels in history. In Nebraska last summer, a 100-mile stretch of the Platte River simply dried up. Drought led the USDA to declare federal disaster areas in 2,245 counties in 39 states last year, and the federal government will likely have to pay tens of billions for crop insurance and lost crops. As ranchers became increasingly desperate to feed their livestock, “hay rustling” and other agricultural crimes rose.
Ranchers were hit particularly hard. Because they couldn’t feed their herds, many ranchers slaughtered a tremendous number of animals. As a result, the U.S. cattle herd is now sitting at a 60 year low.
What do you think that is going to do to meat prices over the next few years?
Meanwhile, the drought continues. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, this is one of the worst winter droughts the U.S. has ever seen. At this point, more than 60 percent of the entire nation is currently experiencing drought.
If things don’t turn around dramatically, 2013 could be an absolutely nightmarish year for crops in the United States. If 2013 does turn out to be another bad year, food prices would soar both in the U.S. and on the global level. The following is from a recent CNBC article…
The severe drought that swept through much of the U.S. last year is continuing into 2013, threatening to cripple economic growth while forcing consumers to pay higher food prices.
“The drought will have a significant impact on prices, especially beef, pork and chicken,” said Ernie Gross, an economic professor at Creighton University and who studies farming issues.
So let us hope for the best, but let us also prepare for the worst.
It looks like higher food prices are on the way, and millions of poor families all over the planet will be hard-pressed to feed their families.
Meanwhile, Goldman Sachs will be laughing all the way to the bank.
The U.S. economy is in a massive amount of trouble. There aren’t enough jobs. There isn’t enough money to go around. Business activity is slowing down again. Household wealth has been falling. Food prices have been rising. Many state and local governments all over the country are flat broke and are drowning in debt. The federal government has been rolling up unprecedented amounts of debt in an attempt to keep things going, but everyone knows that kind of borrowing is simply unsustainable. So where do we go from here? We consume far more than we produce and we use debt to make up the difference. 40 years ago the total amount of debt in America (government, business and consumer) was less than 2 trillion dollars. Today it is nearly 55 trillion dollars. How in the world did we let the total amount of debt in the United States grow more than 27 times larger over the past 40 years? Our economic system is fundamentally broken, but most Americans don’t realize it yet because times are still relatively good.
However, the next great economic crisis is going to wake a whole lot of Americans up.
And when they realize what has happened to our future, they are going to be really, really angry.
Enjoy the good times while they last. The next recession is rapidly approaching, and it will not be pleasant.
The following are 20 signs that all point to the exact same thing….
#1 The unemployment rate in the U.S. has been above 8 percent for 40 months in a row, and 42 percent of all unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least half a year. As I wrote about recently, there are never going to be enough jobs in America ever again. As bad as things are right now, they are about to get even worse. So what is our country going to look like once the unemployment rate starts shooting up rapidly once again?
#2 35 percent of all unemployed workers have had to dip into retirement savings in order to make ends meet over the past year.
#3 Since 2008, the U.S. economy has lost 1.3 million jobs while at the same time 3.6 million more Americans have been added to Social Security’s disability insurance program.
#4 A recent survey conducted by the National Association for Business Economics found that only 23 percent of all U.S. companies plan to hire more workers over the next 6 months. When the same question was asked a few months ago that number was at 39 percent.
#5 An important measure of U.S. manufacturing activity has fallen to its lowest level since June 2009.
#6 Hundreds of thousands of federal jobs at civilian agencies will likely be lost if Congress allows the automatic federal budget cuts to go into effect next year. The following is from a recent article posted on federalnewsradio.com….
A report released Tuesday suggests that several hundred thousand federal jobs at civilian agencies would be on the chopping block within the next year if Congress lets the automatic budget cutting process known as sequestration go into effect.
The study, authored by George Mason University professor Stephen Fuller, adds a new dimension to a budget debate that’s so far been centered on sequestration’s effects on the military.
#7 The teen unemployment rate in Washington D.C. right now is 51.7 percent.
#8 Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index is now the lowest that it has been since January.
#9 The median net worth of U.S. households in 2007 was $126,400. By 2010, it had fallen to just $77,300.
#10 Pensions at S&P 500 companies are more under-funded than they have ever been before.
#11 According to the New York Times, state and local governments across America “shortchanged their pension plans by more than $50 billion” between 2007 and 2011.
#12 The city of Compton, California is evaluating whether or not it should declare bankruptcy. If it did, it would become the fourth California city to declare bankruptcy this year.
#13 The percentage of U.S. households that are spending more than half their incomes on housing is at an all-time high.
#14 For the first time in modern history, Canadian households are wealthier than American households are.
#15 One recent poll found that 42 percent of all Americans believe that China is the leading economic power in the world while only 36 percent believe that the U.S. is still the leading economic power in the world.
#16 According to the federal government, the price of food rose much faster than the general rate of inflation did during 2011. Just check out these rates of food inflation for 2011….
- Beef: +10.2%
- Pork: +8.5%
- Fish: +7.1%
- Eggs: +9.2%
- Dairy: +6.8%
- Oils and Fats: +9.3%
If that happened during a somewhat “normal year”, what will food prices look like after we are done with the drought of 2012?
#17 The price of a bushel of corn has risen by 54 percent since mid-June.
#18 According to one survey, 42 percent of all American workers are living paycheck to paycheck.
#19 A different survey found that 28 percent of all Americans have absolutely no emergency savings at all right now.
#20 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made the following statement to Congress on Tuesday: “At this point we don’t see a double dip recession. We see continued moderate growth.”
Do you remember that old Seinfeld episode when George Costanza decided that he would “do the opposite” of everything that his instincts were telling him to do and everything started working out great for him?
Well, when it comes to Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, the key is to “believe the opposite” of everything that he says.
And since Bernanke does not believe that a double dip recession is going to happen, that probably means that we are about to hit another recession.
If you doubt this theory about Bernanke, just go back and check out his track record.
Okay, so if our economy is in big trouble shouldn’t our leaders be doing something about it?
Well, it is election season now so I wouldn’t expect too much from Barack Obama. He is too busy raising money in France and in China.
I wouldn’t expect too much from Obama’s economic advisers either. In fact, Obama’s much-ballyhooed “jobs council” has not even met in six months.
Not that the “jobs council” was ever going to do anything substantive anyway.
The truth is that it was just for show and most of the CEOs on the council have been sending jobs overseas anyway.
Well, what about the SEC?
Shouldn’t they be doing something to fix the financial system?
No, they are too busy investigating the Amish.
It looks like we are on our own.
Soon, even more parts of the country will start looking like Detroit or Baltimore or Cleveland.
This country is rapidly falling apart, and the federal government is not going to save us.
That is why we need to focus on preparing to weather the coming storm on a family and community level.
There is hope in being prepared. The coming economic crisis will wipe out many Americans because they will never even see it coming. But that does not have to happen to you.
If you work really hard right now to prepare your family for the storm that is on the horizon, then you will have a much better chance of making it through to the other side.