Rising food prices and a depreciating currency have brought down more than one regime. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:
Watch it slip
Watch it slide
I bet $10 on the losing horse
Feel the grip
Of my bride
Watch me do it again
Where’s my dinner?!
– Short Lip Fuser, Rocket from the Crypt
Evergrande’s going down. And it’s taking the life savings of countless good people down with it.
But while Evergrande’s going down. Food prices are going up. Moreover, they’re going up a lot.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), global food prices were up nearly 33 percent year over year in August. Vegetable oil, grains, and meat all cost more. Unfortunately, rising food prices – and empty stomachs – often presage social chaos and revolution.
If you recall, a decade ago food inflation triggered the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. And food shortages were commonplace in Communist Romania in the 1980s. That was before the country’s dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown, tried by a kangaroo court, lined up against a wall, and executed by firing squad on Christmas Day in 1989.
Rare is the revolution ignited by a populace with a full stomach. Historically, surges against an oppressive regime are sparked by a steep and extended rise in food prices.
Leading up to the French Revolution, for example, famines were frequent. In one instance, when Louis XVI’s clueless wife, Marie Antoinette, learned the peasants had no bread, she remarked, “let them eat cake.”
What followed were the Flour War riots. Not long after that, Louis XVI’s head rolled off the guillotine chopping block. Then things really got bad.